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Keywords:

  • Influenza;
  • risk factors;
  • Romania;
  • severe acute respiratory illness;
  • surveillance

Background

Limited data are available from Central and Eastern Europe on risk factors for severe complications of influenza. Such data are essential to prioritize prevention and treatment resources and to adapt influenza vaccination recommendations.

Objectives

To use sentinel surveillance data to identify risk factors for fatal outcomes among hospitalized patients with severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and among hospitalized patients with laboratory-confirmed influenza.

Methods

Retrospective analysis of case-based surveillance data collected from sentinel hospitals in Romania during the 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 winter influenza seasons was performed to evaluate risk factors for fatal outcomes using multivariate logistic regression.

Results

During 2009/2010 and 2010/2011, sentinel hospitals reported 661 SARI patients of which 230 (35%) tested positive for influenza. In the multivariate analyses, infection with influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 was the strongest risk factor for death among hospitalized SARI patients (OR: 6·6; 95% CI: 3·3–13·1). Among patients positive for influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus infection (n = 148), being pregnant (OR: 7·1; 95% CI: 1·6–31·2), clinically obese (OR: 2·9;95% CI: 1·6–31·2), and having an immunocompromising condition (OR: 3·7;95% CI: 1·1–13·4) were significantly associated with fatal outcomes.

Conclusion

These findings are consistent with several other investigations of risk factors associated with influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus infections. They also support the more recent 2012 recommendations by the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) that pregnant women are an important risk group for influenza vaccination. Ongoing sentinel surveillance can be useful tool to monitor risk factors for complications of influenza virus infections during each influenza season, and pandemics as well.