Hospital-acquired influenza rare but serious

Hospital-acquired influenza rare but serious
Electron microscope image of an influenza virus particle. Credit: Frederick Murphy

(Medical Xpress)—Medical researchers urge vaccination this flu season as new research shows that hospital-acquired, or nosocomial, influenza is relatively uncommon, but can be severe.

Research led by Monash University's Associate Professor Allen Cheng and published today in the Medical Journal of Australia - which features a special on vaccinations - reviewed cases of nosocomial influenza in a number of Australian hospitals in the 2010 and 2011 flu seasons.

Using data from a hospital-based influenza monitoring service, the study found of 598 cases of influenza, 26, or 4.3 per cent, were hospital-acquired. One of these nosocomial cases was fatal; however, this patient also suffered respiratory and renal disease.

The researchers found a connection with existing conditions and nosocomial influenza, finding that these patients were more likely to be immunosuppressed or have an underlying malignancy.

Patients with hospital-acquired influenza also had considerably longer hospital stays, although the researchers noted that other factors, including the patients' coexisting health issues, may influence this.

Associate Professor Cheng, from the Monash Department of Epidemiology and , said the risks associated with hospital acquired influenza should not be underestimated.

"While we don't know where these patients got their infections, there has always been concern that patients may catch the flu from hospital staff," Associate Professor Cheng said.

"For most people, flu isn't a , but for patients who are already in hospital for other reasons, it can be a disaster."

The research team recommended the vaccination of patients, healthcare workers and visitors to help reduce nosocomial transmission. Other strategies included improving compliance  with isolation and procedures and encouraging hospital staff to stay at home when they were unwell.

"It is thought that less than half of Australian health care workers receive the flu vaccine each season. Although the flu vaccine isn't completely protective, it is still better than not being vaccinated," Associate Professor Cheng said.

"We strongly encourage all to be vaccinated for their own benefit as well as that of their patients."

Related Stories

New hospital standards needed for pediatric flu vaccines

date Feb 04, 2008

A new study published in the February 2008 issue of Pediatrics finds that many children hospitalized for influenza have had a recent, previous hospitalization that would have provided an easy, convenient opportunity to rec ...

Green light for flu vaccine in transplant recipients

date Apr 28, 2011

Getting vaccinated against the flu lowers kidney transplant recipients' risk of organ loss and death, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society Nephrology (CJASN). The re ...

Recommended for you

Chikungunya kills 25 in Colombia

date 31 minutes ago

The virus chikungunya has killed 25 people in Colombia in less than a year, the National Health Institute said Monday.

Time to move Lyme Disease Awareness Month to April?

date 11 hours ago

The month of May brings many things, among them Mother's Day, tulips, and Lyme Disease Awareness campaigns. But according to Dr. Richard S. Ostfeld, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem ...

An explanation of wild birds' role in avian flu outbreak

date 13 hours ago

Wild birds are believed to be behind the first major widespread outbreak of bird flu in the United States. The H5N2 virus has cost Midwestern turkey and chicken producers almost 13 million birds since early March, including ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.