Background: Nosocomial infections with influenza virus are rarely recognized in neonatal intensive care units (NICU). An outbreak of influenza A virus infection in the NICU of an urban county hospital during the 1997 to 1998 influenza season is reported.
Methods: Clinical and virologic data were recorded in all symptomatic NICU patients after influenza A infection was diagnosed in one infant in October, 1997.
Results: Influenza A/H3N2 was isolated from two of four symptomatic infants. The application of rapid diagnostic techniques for the characterization of influenza virus infection allowed the timely institution of basic infection control measures, limiting this outbreak. Resistance to amantadine was documented for the first time in this patient population by reverse transcription-PCR within 48 h of treatment in one case.
Conclusions: Prevention by immunization is a priority in those caring for high risk NICU patients.