• Pandemic 2009 influenza A(H1N1) virus;
  • prolonged viral shedding;
  • viral load

Clin Microbiol Infect 2011; 17: 1160–1165


The clinical significance of prolonged viral shedding (PVS) and viral load (VL) dynamics has not been sufficiently assessed in hospitalized patients with pandemic 2009 influenza A(H1N1). We performed a prospective study of adults with confirmed influenza A(H1N1) virus infection admitted to our hospital from 20 September 2009 to 31 December 2009. Consecutive nasopharyngeal swabs were collected every 2 days during the first week after diagnosis, and then every week or until viral detection was negative. Relative VL was measured on the basis of haemagglutinin and RNaseP gene analysis. PVS was defined as positive detection of influenza A(H1N1) virus by real-time RT-PCR at day 7 after diagnosis. We studied 64 patients: 16 (25%) presented PVS. The factors associated with PVS were admission to the intensive-care unit (69% vs. 33%, p 0.02), purulent expectoration (75% vs. 44%, p 0.04), higher dosage of oseltamivir (62.5% vs. 27%, p 0.016), corticosteroid treatment (50% vs. 21%, p 0.05), mechanical ventilation (MV) (50% vs. 12.5%, p 0.004), and longer stay (34 vs. 7 median days, p 0.003). Multivariate analysis revealed the factors independently associated with PVS to be immunosuppression (OR 5.15; 95% CI 1.2–22.2; p 0.03) and the need for MV (OR 11.7; 95% CI 2.5–54.4; p 0.002). VL at diagnosis correlated negatively with age and septic shock. VL dynamics of patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome and/or mortality were very different from those of other patients. PVS was detected in 25% of hospitalized patients with pandemic 2009 influenza A(H1N1) and was strongly associated with immunosuppression and the need for MV. Diagnostic VL and viral clearance varied with the clinical course.