Seasonal influenza causes a considerable burden to healthcare services every year. To better measure the impact of severe influenza cases in Romania, we analyzed active surveillance data collected during the 2017–2018 season from patients admitted for influenza-like illness (ILI) at a tertiary care hospital in Bucharest.
Patients admitted for acute ILI were included if they were resident in the Bucharest-Ilfov region, had been hospitalized for at least 24 h, and had onset of symptoms within 7 days before admission. Patient demographics, healthcare use, vaccination status, and outcome data were collected by questionnaire or by searching clinical records. Respiratory swabs were also obtained from each patient to confirm influenza A (A/H1 and A/H3 subtypes) or influenza B (Yamagata and Victoria lineages) infection by real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction assay.
The study included 502 patients, many (45.2%) of whom were aged < 5 years. Overall, 108 patients (21.5%) had one or more comorbidities. Seventeen adults aged 18–64 years (3.4%) had been vaccinated against influenza. Patients were hospitalized for a median of 5 days and most (90.4%) were prescribed antiviral treatment. More than one-half of the patients (n = 259, 51.6%) were positive for influenza. Most influenza cases were caused by B viruses (172/259, 66.4%), which were mostly of the B/Yamagata lineage (85 of 94 characterized, 90.4%). Most of the subtyped A viruses were A/H1 (59/74, 79.7%). A/H1 viruses were frequently detected in influenza-positive admissions throughout the 2017–2018 season, whereas the predominant B/Yamagata viruses were detected around the middle of the season, with a peak in cases at week 7 of 2018. Eleven patients were admitted to an intensive care unit; of these, one patient with confirmed B/Yamagata infection died.
These results show that seasonal influenza results in considerable hospitalization in Bucharest-Ilfov, Romania and suggest vaccine coverage should be extended, especially to the youngest age groups. The data from this study should help inform and optimize national influenza healthcare policies.
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Citation: Drăgănescu, A., Săndulescu, O., Florea, D. et al. The 2017–2018 influenza season in Bucharest, Romania: epidemiology and characteristics of hospital admissions for influenza-like illness. BMC Infect Dis 19, 967 (2019) doi:10.1186/s12879-019-4613-z