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Preliminary Results Draw Attention to the Need to Understand Risk Factors of Influenza

In a surveillance done by a group of researchers in Klang Valley, Malaysia demonstrated the need to better understand and analyse risk factors of influenza.

Influenza, a contagious respiratory illness that can cause substantial socioeconomical and disease burden on healthcare resources. Recent surveillance study conducted in Klang Valley, Malaysia, the researchers showed that influenza contributes 14 percent of all hospitalizations within the study population.

“Surveillance studies can determine the incidence of confirmed influenza and associated complications in hospitalized influenza like illnesses, as well as the distribution of different influenza strain among these cases.” Said Professor Ahmad Izuanuddin Ismail of UITM Medical Specialist Centre, Faculty of Medicine, University Teknologi MARA, Malaysia.

Data was drawn from 350 subjects during the period July 2018 to February 2019, the patients were from two major hospitals in Klang Valley; Hospital Selayang and University Malaya Medical Centre. The study included patients were hospitalized based on a clinical diagnosis of community-acquired pneumonia, had underlying chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma who displayed influenza-like symptoms. Nasopharyngeal and throat swabs were taken as clinical samples to test for the presence of influenza virus in the patients.

Other variables selected for analysis to may be associated with influenza include co-morbidities, length of hospital stay, demographic details, and previous vaccination status were also collected through a questionnaire.

Professor Ahmad Izuanuddin Ismail shares, “The study suggests that influenza is a major contributor to hospitalisation in our study population and associated with adverse outcome including increased fatality.”

“Co-morbidities and length of stay were chosen variables as they reflect the severity of illnesses arose from influenza infections. The more severe infection may lead to prolonged hospitalisation, and in the end would incur extra healthcare cost utilisation.” Added Professor Ahmad Izuanuddin Ismail.

Out of the 14 percent of study subjects with influenza, 89.8 percent had influenza A, and 10.2 percent had influenza B. With only a minute number of 0.9 percent who received vaccinations for influenza in the past 12 months.

Through the study the researchers hope to be able to target vulnerable groups such as the elderly, young children, and pregnant women to place more emphasis on influenza vaccinations as a preventive strategy. As the study is currently still in process further analysis will still be conducted to elucidate on the risk factors that could be associated with influenza within the study population.

The abstract of the study was presented at the 10th edition of the Options for the Control of Influenza Conference (Options X). [APBN]