Comparison of clinical features and outcomes of medically attended influenza A and influenza B in a defined population over four seasons: 2004-2005 through 2007-2008.
ABSTRACT There are few prospectively collected data comparing illnesses caused by different subtypes of influenza. We compared the clinical presentation and outcomes of subjects with primarily outpatient-attended influenza A and B infections during four consecutive influenza seasons (2004-2005 through 2007-2008).
Patients were prospectively enrolled and tested for influenza following an encounter for acute respiratory illness. Influenza infections were confirmed by culture or reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction; subtype was determined for a sample of influenza A isolates each season. Clinical characteristics of influenza A and B infections were compared across and within individual seasons.
We identified 901 cases of influenza A and 284 cases of influenza B; 98% of cases were identified through an outpatient medical encounter. Thirty-six percent of patients with each strain had received seasonal influenza vaccine prior to illness onset. There were no consistent differences in symptoms associated with influenza A and B. Influenza A infection was associated with earlier care seeking compared with influenza B during the 2005-2006 and 2007-2008 seasons, when H3N2 was the dominant type A virus, and in a combined analysis that included all seasons. Twenty-six (2·2%) of 1185 cases were diagnosed with radiographically confirmed pneumonia, and 59 (5%) of 1185 patients were hospitalized within 30 days of illness onset.
Over four influenza seasons, aside from shorter intervals from illness onset to clinical encounter for infections with the A(H3N2) subtype, clinical symptoms and outcomes were similar for patients with predominantly outpatient-attended influenza A and B infections.