Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 March 2020
Older adults often have atypical presentation of illness and are particularly vulnerable to influenza and its sequelae, making the validity of influenza case definitions particularly relevant. We sought to assess the performance of influenza-like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) criteria in hospitalized older adults.
Prospective cohort study.
The Serious Outcomes Surveillance Network of the Canadian Immunization Research Network undertakes active surveillance for influenza among hospitalized adults.
Data were pooled from 3 influenza seasons: 2011/12, 2012/13, and 2013/14. The ILI and SARI criteria were defined clinically, and influenza was laboratory confirmed. Frailty was measured using a validated frailty index.
Of 11,379 adult inpatients (7,254 aged ≥65 years), 4,942 (2,948 aged ≥65 years) had laboratory-confirmed influenza. Their median age was 72 years (interquartile range [IQR], 58–82) and 52.6% were women. The sensitivity of ILI criteria was 51.1% (95% confidence interval [CI], 49.6–52.6) for younger adults versus 44.6% (95% CI, 43.6–45.8) for older adults. SARI criteria were met by 64.1% (95% CI, 62.7–65.6) of younger adults versus 57.1% (95% CI, 55.9–58.2) of older adults with laboratory-confirmed influenza. Patients with influenza who were prefrail or frail were less likely to meet ILI and SARI case definitions.
A substantial proportion of older adults, particularly those who are frail, are missed by standard ILI and SARI case definitions. Surveillance using these case definitions is biased toward identifying younger cases, and does not capture the true burden of influenza. Because of the substantial fraction of cases missed, surveillance definitions should not be used to guide diagnosis and clinical management of influenza.
PREVIOUS PRESENTATION: An earlier version of this work was presented as an oral abstract at the Canadian Immunization Conference, on December 6, 2018, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.