Objective: Influenza is a major concern for intensivists in all communities in the U.S. While there is considerable concern whether or not the country will be ready for a pandemic influenza, even seasonal influenza poses a major challenge to hospitals. The objective of this review is to summarize current knowledge of influenza with emphasis on the issues that intensivist will encounter.
Setting: Intensive care unit in a 450-bed, tertiary care, teaching hospital.
Methods: Source data were obtained from a PubMed search of the medical literature. PubMed "related articles" search strategies were likewise employed frequently.
Summary and conclusions: Seasonal influenza causes more than 200,000 hospitalizations and 41,000 deaths in the U.S. every year, and is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. Despite this impact there is a shortcoming in knowledge of influenza among many health care workers, and a paucity of clinical data and studies to guide therapy. Intensivists need to recognize the importance of seasonal influenza as a cause of severe morbidity and mortality. This review summarizes current knowledge of the diagnosis, complications, therapy, and infection control measures associated with influenza.