Nosocomial influenza: encouraging insights and future challenges

Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2016 Aug;29(4):366-72. doi: 10.1097/QCO.0000000000000287.


Purpose of review: The prevalence and incidence of viral nosocomial influenza infections in healthcare settings are underestimated. Nosocomial influenza outbreaks are frequent, and control remains challenging in acute care and long-term healthcare settings. This review examines recent publications on the determinants of nosocomial influenza prevention and control.

Recent findings: Nosocomial influenza outbreaks occur in various healthcare settings, especially among the frail and elderly. The correct diagnosis is commonly missed because a substantial proportion of asymptomatic cases can transmit infections. Rapid diagnosis will facilitate rapid identification of cases and the implementation of control measures but needs confirmation in some circumstances, such as the description of transmission chains. Links between patients and healthcare personnel (HCP) have been well explored by phylogenetic virus characterization and need additional refinement and study. The preventive role of HCP vaccination in influenza incidence among patients should be investigated further in various settings to take into account different strategies for vaccination (i.e. voluntary or mandatory vaccination policies). Indeed, in Europe, influenza vaccination remains modest, whereas in North America hospitals and some states and provinces are now mandating influenza vaccination among HCP. The variability of vaccine effectiveness by seasonal epidemics is also an important consideration for control strategies.

Summary: When influenza cases occur in the community, the risk of transmission and nosocomial cases increase in healthcare settings requiring vigilance among staff. Surveillance and early warning systems should be encouraged. Outbreak control needs appropriate identification of cases and transmission chains, and rapid implementation of control measures. Vaccination policies in conjunction with appropriate infection control measures could reduce virus spreading in hospitals. HCP vaccination coverage must be improved.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cross Infection / diagnosis
  • Cross Infection / epidemiology
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control*
  • Cross Infection / transmission
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Europe
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Patient-to-Professional / prevention & control
  • Influenza Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Influenza, Human / diagnosis
  • Influenza, Human / epidemiology
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control*
  • Influenza, Human / transmission
  • Mandatory Programs
  • Phylogeny
  • United States
  • Vaccination


  • Influenza Vaccines