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, 13 Suppl 1, S10-3

Review of Clinical Symptoms and Spectrum in Humans With Influenza A/H5N1 Infection


Review of Clinical Symptoms and Spectrum in Humans With Influenza A/H5N1 Infection

David S-C Hui. Respirology.


Influenza A/H5N1 infection has become the major emerging infectious disease of global concern again since late 2003. A history of exposure to dead or sick poultry or wild birds occurs in over 60% of cases of human H5N1 infection. The incubation period of avian-to-human transmission is generally between 2 and 5 days and the median duration of symptoms before hospitalization is about 4.5 days. The clinical spectrum has ranged from asymptomatic infection or mild influenza-like illness to severe pneumonia and multi-organ failure. Fever > 38 degrees C, cough and dyspnoea are the major symptoms on presentation, whereas gastrointestinal symptoms such as watery diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal pain are common early in the course of the disease. In contrast, upper respiratory tract symptoms are less prominent in human H5N1 infection when compared to seasonal influenza. Laboratory features of human H5N1 infection include leucopoenia, especially lymphopenia, elevated amino-transaminases, thrombocytopenia, prolonged prothrombin time and activated partial thromboplastin time, increased D-Dimer, increased serum lactate dehydrogenase and creatinine phospho-kinase, and hypoalbuminemia. A low absolute lymphocyte count on admission is associated with more severe disease and death. Radiographic abnormalities include multi-focal airspace consolidation, interstitial infiltrates, patchy or lobar involvement, with rapid progression to bilateral and diffuse ground-glass opacities consistent with ARDS. However, none of the clinical, laboratory and radiographic features are specific to H5N1 infection. A detailed exposure history needs to be elicited, including any close contact with sick or dead poultry, wild birds, other severely ill persons, travel to an area with A/H5N1 activity or work in laboratory handling samples possibly containing A/H5N1 virus.

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