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Vaccine. 2011 Jul 22;29 Suppl 2:B63-9. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2011.03.064.

Burden of illness of the 2009 pandemic of influenza A (H1N1) in Denmark.

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Department of Epidemiology, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark.


We analysed Danish surveillance data to estimate influenza-associated morbidity and mortality in 2009. To obtain population-based estimates of the clinical attack rate, we combined data from two different primary health care surveillance systems, national numbers of the proportion of positive influenza tests, and data from a web-based interview on health care seeking behaviour during the pandemic. From a national registry, we obtained data on hospital admissions (ICD-10 codes) for influenza related conditions. Admission to intensive care was monitored by a dedicated surveillance scheme. Mortality was estimated among laboratory confirmed cases but was also expressed as excess all-cause mortality attributed to influenza-like illness in a multivariable time series analysis. In total, we estimated that 274,000 individuals (5%) in Denmark experienced clinical illness. The highest attack rate was found in children 5-14 years (15%). Compared with the expected number of hospital admissions, there was an 80% increase in number of influenza related hospital admissions in this age group. The numbers of patients admitted to intensive care approached 5% of the national capacity. Estimates of the number of deaths ranged from 30 to 312 (0.5-5.7 per 100,000 population) depending on the methodology. In conclusion, the pandemic was characterised by high morbidity and unprecedented high rates of admissions to hospitals for a range of influenza-related conditions affecting mainly children. Nonetheless, the burden of illness was lower than assumed in planning scenarios, and the present pandemic compares favourable with the 20th century pandemics.

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