Influenza and rhinovirus infections among health-care workers


Nancy C.J. Bellei, Virology Laboratory, Division of Infectious Diseases, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Rua Pedro de Toledo, 781 15° andar, CEP 04039-032, São Paulo—SP, Brazil.


Background and objective:  Health-care workers (HCWs) are at higher risk of acquisition and transmission of respiratory virus infections. Nosocomial transmission of influenza has been documented but whether this is so for other respiratory viruses has not been assessed.

Methods:  Epidemiological, clinical and viral laboratory surveillance was carried out on HCWs presenting with acute respiratory infection in a university hospital.

Results:  Over a 2-year period, 203 subjects were recruited: rhinovirus was the most frequently detected virus (37.7% in flu negative samples) and influenza A/B was positive in only 12.3% of subjects. Only 19.7% of HCWs were immunized against influenza. High detection of rhinovirus occurred even during the peak of the influenza season and half of the infected subjects reported an influenza-like illness.

Conclusion:  Rhinovirus infection occurred frequently in this study population and probably contributes to influenza misdiagnosis. Educational interventions about different viruses causing respiratory symptoms and an increase in standards of infection control besides influenza immunization among HCWs is needed.