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Nosocomial Influenza B Virus Infection in the Elderly

LEE P. VAN VORIS, M.D.; ROBERT B. BELSHE, M.D.; and JERRI L. SHAFFER, B.S., R.N.
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Supported in part by the Veterans Administration and by contract N01-AI-02644 from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

▸Request for reprints should be addressed to Lee P. Van Voris, M.D.; Section of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Marshall University School of Medicine; Huntington, WV 25701.


Huntington, West Virginia


© 1982 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1982;96(2):153-158. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-96-2-153
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A hospital-acquired outbreak of influenza-like illness that involved 29 patients during 4 weeks was detected in March 1980. The average age of the patients was 63 years. Eighteen of the 29 patients with symptoms had influenza B virus infection documented by virus isolation, fourfold or greater hemagglutination inhibition antibody increases, or both. The attack rate among all hospitalized inpatients was 20%. Absenteeism of the hospital staff because of influenza-like illnesses preceded the outbreak by several weeks, suggesting staff-to-patient transmission. The patients' sera during acute illness had low hemagglutination inhibition antibody titers (geometric mean titer of 1:21) against contemporary influenza B virus antigens, indicating that the patients were highly susceptible to influenza B virus. Only one patient had received trivalent influenza vaccine during the preceding year. The excess hospital cost resulting from the outbreak was $13 270 or $458 per patient. Our observations show that the elderly are at risk of developing nosocomial influenza B virus infection and that these illnesses are costly. Continued efforts to develop efficient influenza immunization programs for elderly persons and hospital staff are worthwhile.

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