Background: The number of admissions to hospital for which influenza is laboratory confirmed is considered to be a substantial underestimate of the true number of admissions due to an influenza infection. During the 2009 pandemic, testing for influenza in hospitalized patients was a priority, but the ascertainment rate remains uncertain.
Methods: The discharge abstracts of persons admitted with any respiratory condition were extracted from the Canadian Discharge Abstract Database, for April 2003-March 2010. Stratified, weekly admissions were modeled as a function of viral activity, seasonality, and trend using Poisson regression models.
Results: An estimated 1 out of every 6.4 admissions attributable to seasonal influenza (2003-April 2009) were coded to J10 (influenza virus identified). During the 2009 pandemic (May-March 2010), the influenza virus was identified in 1 of 1.6 admissions (95% CI, 1.5-1.7) attributed to the pandemic strain. Compared with previous H1N1 seasons (2007/08, 2008/09), the influenza-attributed hospitalization rate for persons <65 years was approximately six times higher during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, whereas for persons 75 years or older, the pandemic rate was approximately fivefold lower.
Conclusions: Case ascertainment was much improved during the pandemic period, with under ascertainment of admissions due to H1N1/2009 limited primarily to patients with a diagnosis of pneumonia.
Keywords: Case ascertainment; data analysis; empirical research; hospital admissions; influenza; seasonal and pandemic; statistical models.
© 2012 John Wiley & Sons Ltd and Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada 2012. Reproduced with the permission of the Minister of the Public Health Agency of Canada.