Increasing our understanding of the factors affecting the severity of the 2009 A/H1N1 influenza pandemic in different regions of the world could lead to improved clinical practice and mitigation strategies for future influenza pandemics. Even though a number of studies have shed light into the risk factors associated with severe outcomes of 2009 A/H1N1 influenza infections in different populations (e.g., [1-5]), analyses of the determinants of mortality risk spanning multiple pandemic waves and geographic regions are scarce. Between-country differences in the mortality burden of the 2009 pandemic could be linked to differences in influenza case management, underlying population health, or intrinsic differences in disease transmission . Additional studies elucidating the determinants of disease severity globally are warranted to guide prevention efforts in future influenza pandemics.
In Mexico, the 2009 A/H1N1 influenza pandemic was characterized by a three-wave pattern occurring in the spring, summer, and fall of 2009 with substantial geographical heterogeneity . A recent study suggests that Mexico experienced high excess mortality burden during the 2009 A/H1N1 influenza pandemic relative to other countries . However, an assessment of potential factors that contributed to the relatively high pandemic death toll in Mexico are lacking. Here, we fill this gap by analyzing a large series of laboratory-confirmed A/H1N1 influenza cases, hospitalizations, and deaths monitored by the Mexican Social Security medical system during April 1 through December 31, 2009 in Mexico. In particular, we quantify the association between disease severity, hospital admission delays, and neuraminidase inhibitor use by demographic characteristics, pandemic wave, and geographic regions of Mexico.
We analyzed a large series of laboratory-confirmed pandemic A/H1N1 influenza cases from a prospective surveillance system maintained by the Mexican Social Security system, April-December 2009. We considered a spectrum of disease severity encompassing outpatient visits, hospitalizations, and deaths, and recorded demographic and geographic information on individual patients. We assessed the impact of neuraminidase inhibitor treatment and hospital admission delay (≤ > 2 days after disease onset) on the risk of death by multivariate logistic regression.
Approximately 50% of all A/H1N1-positive patients received antiviral medication during the Spring and Summer 2009 pandemic waves in Mexico while only 9% of A/H1N1 cases received antiviral medications during the fall wave (P < 0.0001). After adjustment for age, gender, and geography, antiviral treatment significantly reduced the risk of death (OR = 0.52 (95% CI: 0.30, 0.90)) while longer hospital admission delays increased the risk of death by 2.8-fold (95% CI: 2.25, 3.41).
Our findings underscore the potential impact of decreasing admission delays and increasing antiviral use to mitigate the mortality burden of future influenza pandemics.