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Influenza Other Respir Viruses. 2017 May;11(3):220-229. doi: 10.1111/irv.12440. Epub 2017 Feb 15.

School absenteeism among school-aged children with medically attended acute viral respiratory illness during three influenza seasons, 2012-2013 through 2014-2015.

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Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, Marshfield, WI, USA.



Acute respiratory illnesses (ARIs) are common in school-aged children, but few studies have assessed school absenteeism due to specific respiratory viruses.


To evaluate school absenteeism among children with medically attended ARI due to common viruses.


We analyzed follow-up surveys from children seeking care for acute respiratory illness who were enrolled in the influenza vaccine effectiveness study at Marshfield Clinic during the 2012-2013 through 2014-2015 influenza seasons. Archived influenza-negative respiratory swabs were retested using multiplex RT-PCR to detect 16 respiratory virus targets. Negative binomial and logistic regression models were used to examine the association between school absence and type of respiratory viruses; endpoints included mean days absent from school and prolonged (>2 days) absence. We examined the association between influenza vaccination and school absence among children with RT-PCR-confirmed influenza.


Among 1027 children, 2295 days of school were missed due to medically attended ARIs; influenza accounted for 39% of illness episodes and 47% of days missed. Mean days absent were highest for influenza (0.96-1.19) and lowest for coronavirus (0.62). Children with B/Yamagata infection were more likely to report prolonged absence than children with A/H1N1 or A/H3N2 infection [OR (95% CI): 2.1 (1.0, 4.5) and 1.7 (1.0, 2.9), respectively]. Among children with influenza, vaccination status was not associated with prolonged absence.


School absenteeism due to medically attended ARIs varies by viral infection. Influenza B infections accounted for the greatest burden of absenteeism.


absenteeism; children; influenza

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