The number of human cases of pandemic H1N1 influenza viral infection has increased in Japan since April 2009, as it has worldwide. This virus is widespread in the Yamaguchi prefecture in western Japan, where most infected children exhibited respiratory symptoms. Bronchial asthma is thought to be one of the risk factors that exacerbate respiratory symptoms of pandemic H1N1-infected patients, but the pathogenesis remains unclear. We retrospectively investigated the records of 33 children with pandemic H1N1 influenza viral infection who were admitted to our hospital between October and December 2009 and analyzed their clinical features. The percentage of children with asthma attack, with or without abnormal findings on chest radiographs (pneumonia, atelectasis, etc.), caused by pandemic H1N1 influenza infection was significantly higher than that of children with asthma attack and 2008-2009 seasonal influenza infection. Of the 33 children in our study, 22 (66.7%) experienced an asthma attack. Among these children, 20 (90.9%) did not receive long-term management for bronchial asthma, whereas 7 (31.8%) were not diagnosed with bronchial asthma and had experienced their first asthma attack. However, the severity of the attack did not correlate with the severity of the pulmonary complications of pandemic H1N1 influenza viral infection. The pandemic H1N1 influenza virus greatly increases the risk of lower respiratory tract complications such as asthma attack, pneumonia, and atelectasis, when compared to the seasonal influenza virus. Furthermore, our results suggest that pandemic H1N1 influenza viral infection can easily induce a severe asthma attack, pneumonia, and atelectasis in atopic children without any history of either an asthma attack or asthma treatment.
© 2011 John Wiley & Sons A/S.