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PLoS One. 2011;6(9):e24734. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0024734. Epub 2011 Sep 16.

Distinguishing characteristics between pandemic 2009-2010 influenza A (H1N1) and other viruses in patients hospitalized with respiratory illness.

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Division of Infectious Diseases, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island, United States of America.



Differences in clinical presentation and outcomes among patients infected with pandemic 2009 influenza A H1N1 (pH1N1) compared to other respiratory viruses have not been fully elucidated.


A retrospective study was performed of all hospitalized patients at the peak of the pH1N1 season in whom a single respiratory virus was detected by a molecular assay targeting 18 viruses/subtypes (RVP, Luminex xTAG). Fifty-two percent (615/1192) of patients from October, 2009 to December, 2009 had a single respiratory virus (291 pH1N1; 207 rhinovirus; 45 RSV A/B; 37 parainfluenza; 27 adenovirus; 6 coronavirus; and 2 metapneumovirus). No seasonal influenza A or B was detected. Individuals with pH1N1, compared to other viruses, were more likely to present with fever (92% & 70%), cough (92% & 86%), sore throat (32% & 16%), nausea (31% & 8%), vomiting (39% & 30%), abdominal pain (14% & 7%), and a lower white blood count (8,500/L & 13,600/L, all p-values<0.05). In patients with cough and gastrointestinal complaints, the presence of subjective fever/chills independently raised the likelihood of pH1N1 (OR 10). Fifty-five percent (336/615) of our cohort received antibacterial agents, 63% (385/615) received oseltamivir, and 41% (252/615) received steroids. The mortality rate of our cohort was 1% (7/615) and was higher in individuals with pH1N1 compared to other viruses (2.1% & 0.3%, respectively; pā€Š=ā€Š0.04).


During the peak pandemic 2009-2010 influenza season in Rhode Island, nearly half of patients admitted with influenza-like symptoms had respiratory viruses other than influenza A. A high proportion of patients were treated with antibiotics and pH1N1 infection had higher mortality compared to other respiratory viruses.

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