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Influenza And Other Respiratory Viruses Involved In Severe Acute Respiratory Disease In Northern Italy During The Pandemic And Postpandemic Period (2009–2011)

Elena Pariani, Marianna Martinelli, Marta Canuti, Seyed Mohammad Jazaeri Farsani, Bas B. Oude Munnink, Martin Deijs, Elisabetta Tanzi, Alessandro Zanetti, Lia van der Hoek, Antonella Amendola

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Since 2009 pandemic, international health authorities recommended monitoring severe and complicated cases of respiratory disease, that is, severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). We evaluated the proportion of SARI/ARDS cases and deaths due to influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 infection and the impact of other respiratory viruses during pandemic and postpandemic period (2009–2011) in northern Italy; additionally we searched for unknown viruses in those cases for which diagnosis remained negative. 206 respiratory samples were collected from SARI/ARDS cases and analyzed by real-time RT-PCR/PCR to investigate influenza viruses and other common respiratory pathogens; also, a virus discovery technique (VIDISCA-454) was applied on those samples tested negative to all pathogens. Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus was detected in 58.3% of specimens, with a case fatality rate of 11.3%. The impact of other respiratory viruses was 19.4%, and the most commonly detected viruses were human rhinovirus/enterovirus and influenza A(H3N2). VIDISCA-454 enabled the identification of one previously undiagnosed measles infection. Nearly 22% of SARI/ARDS cases did not obtain a definite diagnosis. In clinical practice, great efforts should be dedicated to improving the diagnosis of severe respiratory disease; the introduction of innovative molecular technologies, as VIDISCA-454, will certainly help in reducing such “diagnostic gap.”