Background: The first cases of avian influenza A (H5N1) in humans in Vietnam were detected in early 2004, and Vietnam has reported the second highest number of cases globally.
Methods: We obtained retrospective clinical data through review of medical records for laboratory confirmed cases of influenza A (H5N1) infection diagnosed in Vietnam from January 2004 through December 2006. Standard data was abstracted regarding clinical and laboratory features, treatment, and outcome.
Results: Data were obtained for 67 (72%) of 93 cases diagnosed in Vietnam over the study period. Patients presented to the hospital after a median duration of illness of 6 days with fever (75%), cough (89%), and dyspnea (81%). Diarrhea and mucosal bleeding at presentation were more common in fatal than in nonfatal cases. Common findings were bilateral pulmonary infiltrates on chest radiograph (72%), lymphopenia (73%), and increased serum transaminase levels (aspartate aminotransferase, 69%; alanine aminotransferase, 61%). Twenty-six patients died (case fatality rate, 39%; 95% confidence interval, 27%-51%) and the most reliable predictor of a fatal outcome was the presence of both neutropenia and raised alanine aminotransferase level at admission, which correctly predicted 91% of deaths and 82% of survivals. The risk of death was higher among persons aged < or =16 years, compared with older persons (P < .001), and the risk of death was higher among patients who did not receive oseltamivir treatment (P = .048). The benefit of oseltamivir treatment remained after controlling for potential confounding by 1 measure of severity (odds ratio, 0.15; 95% confidence interval, 0.026-0.893; P = .034).
Conclusion: In cases of infection with Influenza A (H5N1), the presence of both neutropenia and raised serum transaminase levels predicts a poor outcome. Oseltamivir treatment shows benefit, but treatment with corticosteroids is associated with an increased risk of death.