Methods: Bern University Hospital is a 950-bed tertiary care hospital in Bern, Switzerland with an overall influenza vaccination rate of 34% in the 2014/15 season. During this season, from week 52/2014 through week 14/2015, all HCW presenting to occupational health with ILI underwent a nasopharyngeal swab (a departure from earlier seasons where no specific diagnostic work-up was done for ILI). We asked HCW about the type and duration of symptoms and whether they had received the seasonal influenza vaccine. We used a multiplex PCR method for detecting the following respiratory viruses: Influenza A/B, RSV, metapneumovirus, adenovirus, rhinovirus, parainfluenzavirus, bocavirus, and coronavirus.
Results: A total of 72 HCW were screened, of which 18 (25%) had been vaccinated against influenza. The majority (79%) had a cough; 73% reported a combination of headaches, sore throat, and myalgias; and 65% were febrile. In 18 (25%) influenza A was detected, of which 15 (83%) had not received the vaccine. 83% among the HCW with influenza A reported a fever. We detected influenza B in a comparatively smaller subset (5; 6.9%), most of them unvaccinated (4; 80%). Coronaviruses were found in 16 (22%) of the screenees. In a large proportion of sick HCW (31%) no virus could be detected despite typical respiratory symptoms.
Conclusion: A third of the HCW presenting with influenza-like illness to our center’s occupational health department had influenza; more than 80% of them had not been vaccinated and were confronted with this finding. We believe that the detection of influenza virus (as opposed to no specific diagnostic work-up) can help the affected HCW population understand the value of vaccination. This insight can be used for HCW education and influenza vaccine promotion.
C. Spycher Berendonk, None
M. Gorgievski, None
M. T. Barbani, None
J. Marschall, Astellas Switzerland: Scientific Advisor , Consulting fee