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Eur Respir J. 2011 May;37(5):1151-7. doi: 10.1183/09031936.00037410. Epub 2010 Sep 3.

How deadly is seasonal influenza-associated pneumonia? The German Competence Network for Community-Acquired Pneumonia.

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Institute for Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, University Hospital of Ulm, Ulm, Germany.


The emergence of new influenza virus subtypes has rekindled the interest in the clinical course and outcome of patients with influenza-associated pneumonia. Based on prospective data from 5,032 patients with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) included in the German Competence Network for Community-Acquired Pneumonia (CAPNETZ), we studied the incidence, clinical characteristics and outcome of patients with influenza-associated CAP and compared these findings with patients without influenza. Diagnosis relied on a positive PCR for influenza in throat washings. 160 patients with influenza-associated CAP were identified (3.2% of total population, 12% of those with defined aetiology). 34 (21%) patients with seasonal influenza had a concomitant pathogen (mostly Streptococcus pneumoniae). Patients with influenza-associated CAP were significantly older, had been vaccinated less often and had preceding antibacterial treatment less often. 30-day mortality was low (4.4%) and not different to that of patients with pneumonia caused by bacterial (6.2%) or viral (other than influenza) pathogens (4%). Patients with influenza plus a bacterial pathogen (mixed influenza-associated pneumonia) had a higher mortality than those with pure influenza-associated pneumonia (9% versus 3.2%). Mortality was higher in patients with mixed compared with pure influenza-associated pneumonia. However, we could not observe any excess mortality in patients with influenza-associated pneumonia.

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