Background: In late March 2009, an outbreak of a respiratory illness later proved to be caused by novel swine-origin influenza A (H1N1) virus (S-OIV) was identified in Mexico. We describe the clinical and epidemiologic characteristics of persons hospitalized for pneumonia at the national tertiary hospital for respiratory illnesses in Mexico City who had laboratory-confirmed S-OIV infection, also known as swine flu.
Methods: We used retrospective medical chart reviews to collect data on the hospitalized patients. S-OIV infection was confirmed in specimens with the use of a real-time reverse-transcriptase-polymerase-chain-reaction assay.
Results: From March 24 through April 24, 2009, a total of 18 cases of pneumonia and confirmed S-OIV infection were identified among 98 patients hospitalized for acute respiratory illness at the National Institute of Respiratory Diseases in Mexico City. More than half of the 18 case patients were between 13 and 47 years of age, and only 8 had preexisting medical conditions. For 16 of the 18 patients, this was the first hospitalization for their illness; the other 2 patients were referred from other hospitals. All patients had fever, cough, dyspnea or respiratory distress, increased serum lactate dehydrogenase levels, and bilateral patchy pneumonia. Other common findings were an increased creatine kinase level (in 62% of patients) and lymphopenia (in 61%). Twelve patients required mechanical ventilation, and seven died. Within 7 days after contact with the initial case patients, a mild or moderate influenza-like illness developed in 22 health care workers; they were treated with oseltamivir, and none were hospitalized.
Conclusions: S-OIV infection can cause severe illness, the acute respiratory distress syndrome, and death in previously healthy persons who are young to middle-aged. None of the secondary infections among health care workers were severe.
2009 Massachusetts Medical Society