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Influenza Other Respir Viruses. 2017 Sep;11(5):372-393. doi: 10.1111/irv.12470.

The hidden burden of influenza: A review of the extra-pulmonary complications of influenza infection.

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Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.
Division of Infectious Diseases, The University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA.


Severe influenza infection represents a leading cause of global morbidity and mortality. Although influenza is primarily considered a viral infection that results in pathology limited to the respiratory system, clinical reports suggest that influenza infection is frequently associated with a number of clinical syndromes that involve organ systems outside the respiratory tract. A comprehensive MEDLINE literature review of articles pertaining to extra-pulmonary complications of influenza infection, using organ-specific search terms, yielded 218 articles including case reports, epidemiologic investigations, and autopsy studies that were reviewed to determine the clinical involvement of other organs. The most frequently described clinical entities were viral myocarditis and viral encephalitis. Recognition of these extra-pulmonary complications is critical to determining the true burden of influenza infection and initiating organ-specific supportive care.


extra-pulmonary complications; influenza; respiratory virus; viral encephalitis; viral myocarditis

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