Background: The aim of this study was to investigate factors affecting clinical outcomes of adults hospitalised with severe seasonal influenza.
Methods: A prospective, observational cohort study was conducted over 24 months (2007-2008) in two acute, general hospitals. Consecutive, hospitalised adult patients were recruited and followed once their laboratory diagnosis of influenza A/B was established (based on viral antigen detection and virus isolation from nasopharyngeal aspirates collected per protocol). Outcomes studied included in-hospital death, length of stay and duration of oxygen therapy. Factors affecting outcomes were analysed using multivariate Cox proportional hazards models. Sequencing analysis on the neuraminidase gene was performed for available H1N1 isolates.
Results: 754 patients were studied (influenza A, n=539; >75% H3N2). Their mean age was 70+/-18 years; co-morbidities and serious complications were common (61-77%). Supplemental oxygen and ventilatory support was required in 401 (53.2%) and 41 (5.4%) patients, respectively. 39 (5.2%) patients died; pneumonia, respiratory failure and sepsis were the causes. 395 (52%) patients received antiviral (oseltamivir) treatment. Omission of antiviral treatment was associated with delayed presentation or negative antigen detection results. The mortality rate was 4.56 and 7.42 per 1000 patient-days in the treated and untreated patients, respectively; among those with co-morbidities, it was 5.62 and 11.64 per 1000 patient-days, respectively. In multivariate analysis, antiviral use was associated with reduced risk of death (adjusted HR (aHR) 0.27 (95% CI 0.13 to 0.55); p<0.001). Improved survival was observed with treatment started within 4 days from onset. Earlier hospital discharge (aHR 1.28 (95% CI 1.04 to 1.57); p=0.019) and faster discontinuation of oxygen therapy (aHR 1.30 (95% CI 1.01 to 1.69); p=0.043) was associated with early treatment within 2 days. Few (n=15) H1N1 isolates in this cohort had the H275Y mutation.
Conclusions: Antiviral treatment for severe influenza is associated with reduced mortality and improved clinical outcomes.