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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

Print version ISSN 1020-4989

Abstract

BARRAU, Marie et al. Hospitalized cases of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 in the French territories of the Americas, July 2009-March 2010. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2012, vol.32, n.2, pp. 124-130. ISSN 1020-4989.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49892012000800006.

OBJECTIVE: To describe the methodology used for implementing a surveillance system specifically for influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 in the French West Indies and French Guiana during an outbreak of this new virus in 2009-2010, and to report its main results. METHODS: This was an observational descriptive study of confirmed and probable cases of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 hospitalized for at least 24 hours in 23 July 2009-3 March 2010. Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction was performed on nasopharyngeal swab samples according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocol. A probable case was defined as fever > 38ºC or aches or asthenia with respiratory symptoms (cough or dyspnea). All confirmed and probable hospitalized cases were reported, along with patient's age, sex, clinical condition at admission, place and length of hospitalization, antiviral treatment, underlying conditions, complications, and clinical evolution. A case was classified as severe if respiratory assistance or intensive care was required or if death resulted. RESULTS: A total of 331 confirmed and 16 probable cases were hospitalized, with a hospitalization rate ranging from 4.3 per 1 000 clinical cases in Saint Martin to 10.3 in French Guiana. Of these, 36 were severe, and subsequently, 10 were fatal. The median length of stay was 4 days for non-severe cases and 9 days for severe (P < 0.05). The mean patient age was 21 years, and severe cases were significantly older than non-severe (mean: 38 years versus 19 years, P < 0.05). Underlying conditions associated with a higher risk of severity were 65 years of age or more (RR = 7.5, 95%CI = 4.2-13.3), diabetes (RR = 3.7, 95%CI = 1.5-9.4), cardiac insufficiency (RR = 8.4, 95%CI = 5.2-13.6), and morbid obesity (RR = 4.4, 95%CI = 1.8-10.4). Patients who received antiviral treatment within 2 days of symptom onset had shorter hospital stays (mean: 4 days versus 6.5 days, P < 0.05), and the illness tended to become less severe (11.1% versus 19.0%, P = 0.13). CONCLUSIONS: Active research of hospitalized cases enabled almost exhaustive surveillance. The pandemic's hospitalization rates and lethality were more moderate than expected. Some previously known underlying conditions of severity were confirmed during this outbreak. Furthermore, these results show the validity of early antiviral treatment.

Keywords : Influenza A virus, H1N1 subtype; epidemiological surveillance; sentinel surveillance; epidemiologic methods; virus diseases; French Guiana; Guadeloupe; Martinique; West Indies.

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