The objective of this study was to describe a nosocomial outbreak of influenza during a period without influenza epidemic activity in the community. Outbreak investigation was carried out in an infectious diseases ward of a tertiary hospital. Presence of two or more of the following symptoms were used to define influenza: cough, sore throat, myalgia and fever. Epidemiological survey, direct immunofluorescence, viral culture, polymerase chain reaction, haemagglutination-inhibition test in throat swabs and serology for respiratory viruses were performed. Twenty-nine of 57 healthcare workers (HCW) (51%) and eight of 23 hospitalised patients (34%) fulfilled the case definition. Sixteen HCW (55%) and three inpatients (37%) had a definitive diagnosis of influenza A virus infection (subtype H1N1). Among the symptomatic HCW, 93% had not been vaccinated against influenza that season. Affected inpatients were isolated and admissions in the ward were cancelled for 2 weeks. Symptomatic HCW were sent home for 1 week. On the seventeenth day of the outbreak the last case was declared. The incidence of cases in this outbreak of influenza, which occurred during a period without influenza epidemic activity in the community, was notably high. Epidemiological data suggest transmission from healthcare workers to inpatients. Most healthcare workers were not vaccinated against influenza. Vaccination programmes should be reinforced among healthcare workers.
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