Background: An epidemic of influenza B/Malaysia/2506/2004 was reported in Taiwan during the 2006-2007 flu season. We investigated the flu vaccination history and clinical and Laboratory characteristics of children with influenza B infection.
Methods: We enrolled children younger than 18 years old who visited one of two hospitals between November 2006 and February 2007 with influenza-like illnesses. Throat swabs were taken on their first visit and cultured for viruses. Complete and differential blood counts and blood biochemical parameters were analyzed in some children.
Results: Influenza virus was cultured from 51.0% of patients (101/198), 87 (86.1%) of who were infected with influenza virus type B. The remaining 14 (13.9%) were infected with influenza virus type AH3. The 87 children (median age 7.8 years) with culture-proven influenza B virus infection were enrolled. Nine parents reported that enrolled children had been vaccinated against influenza. Leukopenia was found in 56.1% (32/57) of patients, leukocytosis in 3.5% (2/57), and thrombocytopenia in 1.8% (1/57). Thirteen of 23 patients (56%) tested for creatine kinase (CK) had elevated levels ( >160 U/L), and 11 of 23 (47.8%) had myalgia associated with raised CK (p < 0.05). Twenty-six children developed complications, including one case of pneumonia with acute respiratory distress syndrome and one case of flu-associated encephalitis.
Conclusion: Most children who contracted influenza B infection had not been vaccinated. Almost half the children had leukopenia, and some had leukocytosis, but thrombocytopenia was rare. There was a significant association between raised CK levels and myalgia in influenza B infection.