"Significant" proportion of health professionals, patients lose the flu virus before symptoms appear


Stefan Kuster, MD, MSc, MBA

Stefan Kuster

Researchers who monitor influenza transmission at a tertiary care hospital in Switzerland have found that a "significant" proportion of patients and health professionals released the flu virus before the onset of symptoms.

The researchers said they found several influenza transmission groups not detected by routine surveillance and seven general clusters of potential transmission among health professionals, including one that appeared to include transmission from an asymptomatic health worker to an inpatient. The results were presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

Stefan Kuster, MD, MSc, MBA, a senior physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Hospital Epidemiology at the University Hospital in Zurich, and colleagues conducted a prospective study of 543 inpatients and 152 acute care health care workers working on the same wings during the flu 2015-2016 and 2016 -2017 seasons at the University Hospital of Zurich.

They collected nasal swabs daily to track the influenza infection and tracked the contacts among study participants.

Nineteen hospitalized patients (3.5%) and 16 health professionals (10.5%) were diagnosed with influenza. Kuster and colleagues wrote that the majority of those who tested positive (83.1% of health professionals and 91.9% of patients) experienced influenza symptoms, including respiratory symptoms, at the time of their positive test.

According to the findings, 16.9% of PS positive swabs and 8.1% of influenza positive swabs were collected on days when they reported no symptoms.

The researchers also reported that 12.5% ​​of health professionals and 10.5% of patients who tested positive remained asymptomatic. Two (13%) of the health professionals and none of the symptomatic patients had a positive influenza test before the symptoms developed.

"Our findings suggest that influenza infection in acute treatment is common and a significant proportion of individuals appear to release influenza virus without presenting any symptoms, making influenza spreading very difficult to control, even with current self-diagnosis and influenza infection control, "Kuster said. News from Infectious Diseases. "Flu vaccination is not perfect, but it remains the best tool we have to protect health professionals and their patients from serious illness."

Earlier results from the study showed that more than 50% of health care trainees reported attending work with flu-like illness, although they knew the risk to others. – by Bruce Thiel


Cowman K, et al. I am J. Infect Control. 2019; doi: 10.1016 / j.ajic.2018.02.004.

Tamó R, et al. Abstract 2292. Presented at ECCMID; 13-16 April 2019; Amsterdam

disclosures: The authors do not report relevant financial disclosures.


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