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Nosocomial transmission of influenza is a major concern for infection control. We aimed to dissect transmission dynamics of influenza, including asymptomatic transmission events, in acute care.
Prospective surveillance study during 2 influenza seasons.
Volunteer sample of inpatients on medical wards and healthcare workers (HCWs).
Participants provided daily illness diaries and nasal swabs for influenza A and B detection and whole-genome sequencing for phylogenetic analyses. Contacts between study participants were tracked. Secondary influenza attack rates were calculated based on spatial and temporal proximity and phylogenetic evidence for transmission.
In total, 152 HCWs and 542 inpatients were included; 16 HCWs (10.5%) and 19 inpatients (3.5%) tested positive for influenza on 109 study days. Study participants had symptoms of disease on most of the days they tested positive for influenza (83.1% and 91.9% for HCWs and inpatients, respectively). Also, 11(15.5%) of 71 influenza-positive swabs among HCWs and 3 (7.9%) of 38 influenza-positive swabs among inpatients were collected on days without symptoms; 2 (12.5%) of 16 HCWs and 2 (10.5%) of 19 inpatients remained fully asymptomatic. The secondary attack rate was low: we recorded 1 transmission event over 159 contact days (0.6%) that originated from a symptomatic case. No transmission event occurred in 61 monitored days of contacts with asymptomatic influenza-positive individuals.
Influenza in acute care is common, and individuals regularly shed influenza virus without harboring symptoms. Nevertheless, both symptomatic and asymptomatic transmission events proved rare. We suggest that healthcare-associated influenza prevention strategies that are based on preseason vaccination and barrier precautions for symptomatic individuals seem to be effective.
To assess influenza symptoms, adherence to mask use recommendations, absenteesm and presenteeism in acute care healthcare workers (HCWs) during influenza epidemics.
The TransFLUas influenza transmission study in acute healthcare prospectively followed HCWs prospectively over 2 consecutive influenza seasons. Symptom diaries asking for respiratory symptoms and adherence with mask use recommendations were recorded on a daily basis, and study participants provided midturbinate nasal swabs for influenza testing.
In total, 152 HCWs (65.8% nurses and 13.2% physicians) were included: 89.1% of study participants reported at least 1 influenza symptom during their study season and 77.8% suffered from respiratory symptoms. Also, 28.3% of HCW missed at least 1 working day during the study period: 82.6% of these days were missed because of symptoms of influenza illness. Of all participating HCWs, 67.9% worked with symptoms of influenza infection on 8.8% of study days. On 0.3% of study days, symptomatic HCWs were shedding influenza virus while at work. Among HCWs with respiratory symptoms, 74.1% adhered to the policy to wear a mask at work on 59.1% of days with respiratory symptoms.
Respiratory disease is frequent among HCWs and imposes a significant economic burden on hospitals due to the number of working days lost. Presenteesm with respiratory illness, including influenza, is also frequent and poses a risk for patients and staff.