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"Seasonal Influenza in Adults and Children—Diagnosis, Treatment, Chemoprophylaxis, and Institutional Outbreak Management: Clinical Practice Guidelines of the Infectious Diseases Society of America"

update in progress
Published: Clinical Infectious Diseases ; 2009 ; 48 : 1003 -1032

Abstract

Guidelines for the treatment of persons with influenza virus infection were prepared by an Expert Panel of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. The evidence‐based guidelines encompass diagnostic issues, treatment and chemoprophylaxis with antiviral medications, and issues related to institutional outbreak management for seasonal (interpandemic) influenza. They are intended for use by physicians in all medical specialties with direct patient care, because influenza virus infection is common in communities during influenza season and may be encountered by practitioners caring for a wide variety of patients. 

Full text

*Projected publication, Summer 2018

Statement by the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA) on the recent publication on “Neuraminidase inhibitors for preventing and treating influenza in healthy adults and children"- April 2014

Recommendations

Diagnostic Issues

Who Should Be Considered to Have Influenza?

  1. During influenza season (defined as periods when influenza viruses are circulating in the community), the diagnosis of influenza should be considered in the following patients, regardless of vaccination status:

a. Immunocompetent and immunocompromised persons (both adults and children), including health care personnel, with fever and the acute onset of respiratory signs and symptoms (A-II).

b. Persons with fever and acute exacerbation of underlying chronic lung disease (A-II). c. Infants and young children with fever and no other signs or symptoms (A-II).

d. Elderly persons with new or worsening respiratory symptoms, including exacerbation of congestive heart failure or altered mental status, with or without fever (A-II).

e. Severely ill persons with fever or hypothermia (A-II).

f. Hospitalized children admitted without fever and acute respiratory symptoms who subsequently develop fever or febrile respiratory illness after hospital admission (A-II).

g. Hospitalized adults admitted without fever and acute respiratory symptoms who subsequently develop febrile respiratory illness after hospital admission (A-II).

  1. During any time of the year, influenza should be considered in immunocompetent and immunocompromised persons with acute febrile respiratory symptoms who are epidemiologically linked to an influenza outbreak (e.g., health care personnel at, residents of, or visitors to an institution experiencing an influenza outbreak; household and close contacts of persons with suspected influenza; returned travelers from countries where influenza viruses may be circulating; participants in international mass gatherings; and cruise ship passengers) (A-II).

Who Should Be Tested for Suspected Influenza?

  1. If the result will influence clinical management (decisions on initiation of antiviral treatment, impact on other diagnostic testing, antibiotic treatment decisions, and infection control practices), with consideration for the sensitivity and specificity of the test used and information about local influenza virus circulation, the following persons should be considered for influenza testing (table 2):

During Influenza Season

a. Outpatient immunocompetent persons of any age at high risk for complications of influenza (e.g., hospitalization or death) (table 3) presenting with acute febrile respiratory symptoms, within 5 days of illness onset, when virus is usually being shed (A-II).

Persons at high risk of complications from influenza who should be considered for antiviral therapy.

b. Outpatient immunocompromised persons of any age presenting with febrile respiratory symptoms, irrespective of time from illness onset, because immunocompromised persons can shed influenza viruses for weeks to months (A-II).

c. Hospitalized persons of any age (immunocompetent or immunocompromised) with fever and respiratory symptoms, including those with a diagnosis of community-acquired pneumonia, irrespective of time from illness onset (A-II).

d. Elderly persons and infants presenting with suspected sepsis or fever of unknown origin, irrespective of time from illness onset (A-III).

e. Children with fever and respiratory symptoms presenting for medical evaluation, irrespective of time from illness onset (A-II).

f. Persons of any age who develop fever and respiratory symptoms after hospital admission, irrespective of time from illness onset (A-II).

g. Immunocompetent persons with acute febrile respiratory symptoms who are not at high risk of developing complications secondary to influenza infection may be tested for purposes of obtaining local surveillance data (A-III).

During Any Time of the Year

h. Health care personnel, residents, or visitors in an institution experiencing an influenza outbreak who present with febrile respiratory symptoms within 5 days after illness onset (A-II).

i. Persons who are epidemiologically linked to an influenza outbreak (e.g., household and close contacts of persons with suspected influenza, returned travelers from countries where influenza viruses may be circulating, participants in international mass gatherings, and cruise ship passengers) who present within 5 days after illness onset (A-II).

What Specimens Should Be Collected for Influenza Tests from Persons with Suspected Influenza?

  1. In immunocompetent persons, respiratory tract specimens should be obtained as close to illness onset as possible, preferably within 5 days after illness onset. Collection of specimens >5 days after illness onset may result in false-negative results because of substantially decreased viral shedding, especially in older children and adults. Infants and young children commonly shed influenza viruses for ⩾1 week. In infants and young children, optimal specimens are nasal aspirates and swabs. In older children and adults, nasopharyngeal aspirates and swabs are preferred specimens. Oropharyngeal specimens (e.g., throat swabs) and sputum specimens may have a lower yield for detection of human influenza viruses but may still produce positive results (A-II).

  2. Immunocompromised persons of any age with influenza virus infection may shed influenza viruses for weeks to months, even without fever or respiratory symptoms. Therefore, collection of upper and lower respiratory tract specimens (e.g., with bronchoalveolar lavage) within 5 days after illness onset may still be useful for influenza testing in these persons (A-II).

  3. Upper and lower respiratory tract samples should be obtained from patients undergoing mechanical ventilation within 5 days after illness onset, although test results may be positive even after this period. Lower respiratory tract samples include endotracheal aspirates and washes and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (A-II).
  4. Respiratory specimens should be tested for influenza as soon as possible after collection and should be refrigerated (but not frozen) pending testing (A-II).
  5. Clinicians should consult test instructions for the recommended clinical specimens for each specific influenza test (A-II).
  6. Acute-phase serum specimens should not be obtained for diagnostic purposes. Paired acute- and convalescent-phase serum specimens are needed for determination of antibody titers (by hemagglutinin inhibition, ELISA, or complement fixation, available only through reference laboratories), but results cannot be attained in a timely fashion and will not influence clinical management (A-II).

What Influenza Tests Should Be Used for Persons with Suspected Influenza?

  1. Tests that yield results in a timely manner that can influence clinical management (decisions on initiation of antiviral treatment, impact on other diagnostic testing, antibiotic treatment decisions, and infection control practices) are recommended to guide patient care. Results of testing should take into account the a priori likelihood of influenza infection based on the patient's signs and symptoms, the sensitivity and specificity of the test used, and information on circulation of influenza in the community. An in-depth description of influenza testing methods is also available at the CDC' Seasonal Flu Web site (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/diagnosis/labprocedures.htm).

In order of priority, the following influenza tests are recommended, if available:

a. RT-PCR. This is currently the most sensitive and specific of testing modalities for influenza, with results available within 4–6 h after specimen submission. RT-PCR shows greater sensitivity than viral culture, may be used as a confirmatory test, and is useful for quickly differentiating between influenza types and subtypes. RT-PCR is also the preferred test for specimens obtained from persons with a history of exposure to animals with possible influenza illness (e.g., influenza A [H5N1] in poultry in Eurasia or Africa or swine influenza in any part of the world, including North America) (A-II).

b. Immunofluorescence. Direct fluorescent antibody or indirect fluorescent antibody staining for influenza antigen detection are used as screening tests. Immunofluorescence exhibits slightly lower sensitivity and specificity than viral isolation in cell culture, but results are available within hours after specimen submission. Performance of these assays depends heavily on laboratory expertise and the quality of the specimen collected (i.e., specimens must include respiratory epithelium cells) (A-II).

c. Commercial rapid influenza diagnostic tests. The currently available antigen detection tests provide results in 10–30 min but exhibit decreased sensitivity (70%–90% in children and <40% to 60% in adults), compared with RT-PCR and with viral culture (table 4). Performance of these assays depends heavily on patient age, duration of illness, sample type, and perhaps viral type. Given the lower sensitivity of immunofluorescence and commercial rapid tests, follow-up testing with RT-PCR and/or viral culture should be considered to confirm negative test results (A-II).

  1. Viral isolation (in standard cell culture and shell vial culture) is not a screening test, but during periods of low influenza activity (late spring, summer, and early fall), it should be performed on respiratory specimens collected from persons with suspected influenza that present for medical care within 5 days after illness onset, especially if such persons are known to be epidemiologically linked to an influenza outbreak. During influenza season, viral culture should be performed with respiratory specimens obtained from a subset of persons for routine virologic surveillance purposes and to confirm some negative test results from rapid antigen and immunofluorescence testing, particularly in the setting of institutional outbreaks (A-II).
  2. Serologic testing is usually not recommended to detect evidence of human influenza virus infection for management of acute illness. Influenza serologic test data for a single serum specimen cannot be reliably interpreted. Paired acute- and convalescent-phase serum samples are needed for determination of antibody titers (by hemagglutinin inhibition, ELISA, or complement fixation, available only through reference laboratories), but results cannot be attained in a timely fashion and will not influence clinical management. Paired serum specimens are useful only for retrospective diagnosis and for research purposes (A-II).

How Are Influenza Test Results Interpreted?

  1. To properly interpret test results, clinicians should consider and understand the limitations of influenza tests, especially for screening tests such as immunofluorescence and commercially available rapid influenza tests, as well as the level of influenza activity among the population being tested (table 5). Clinicians should also consider that a positive influenza test result does not exclude bacterial coinfection and evaluation for the potential need for antibiotics (A-II).

a. A positive screening test result is most likely to be truly positive during periods of peak influenza activity in the population tested.

b. A positive screening test result is most likely to be falsely positive during periods of low influenza activity in the population tested, including early and late in the influenza season. A confirmatory test such as PCR or viral culture should be considered.

c. A negative screening test result is most likely to be truly negative during periods of low influenza activity in the population tested.

d. A negative screening test result is most likely to be falsely negative during periods of peak influenza activity in the population tested. A confirmatory test, such as PCR or viral culture, should be considered.

Antivirals for Treatment

Who Should Be Treated with Antivirals?

  1. Treatment is recommended for both adults and children with influenza virus infection who meet the following criteria:

a. Persons with laboratory-confirmed or highly suspected influenza virus infection at high risk of developing complications (table 3), within 48 h after symptom onset. Benefits have been best evaluated mostly among otherwise healthy adults with uncomplicated influenza whose treatment was initiated within 48 h after symptom onset, although smaller numbers of persons with conditions that increase the risk of influenza complications have also been included in trials. Fewer data are available by which to make recommendations regarding treatment of persons >48 h after symptom onset. Treatment is recommended regardless of influenza vaccination status and regardless of severity of illness (A-II).

b. Persons requiring hospitalization for laboratory-confirmed or highly suspected influenza illness, regardless of underlying illness or influenza vaccination status, if treatment can be initiated within 48 h after onset of symptoms (A-II). However, persons who require hospitalization for laboratory-confirmed influenza whose positive laboratory test result for influenza is from a specimen obtained >48 h after the onset of illness may also benefit from treatment (B-II).

  1. Treatment should be considered for both adults and children with influenza virus infection who meet the following criteria:

a. Outpatients at high risk of complications (table 3) with illness that is not improving and who have a positive influenza test result from a specimen obtained >48 h after onset of symptoms (C-III).

b. Outpatients with laboratory-confirmed or highly suspected influenza virus infection who are not at increased risk of complications, whose onset of symptoms is <48 h before presentation, and who wish to shorten the duration of illness and further reduce their relatively low risk of complications (A-I) or who are in close contact with persons at high risk of complications secondary to influenza infection (table 3). Those whose onset of symptoms occurred >48 h before presentation with persisting moderate to severe illness may also benefit from treatment, but safety and efficacy in this population have not been evaluated prospectively (B-III).

What Antiviral Drug Should Be Used for Treatment?

  1. Influenza viruses and their susceptibilities to available antiviral medications evolve rapidly. Clinicians should maintain familiarity with local patterns of influenza circulation in their communities throughout influenza season. Current and frequently updated information on antiviral resistance and recommendations on antiviral use may be found at the CDC's influenza Web site (http://www.cdc.gov/flu). On the basis of antiviral susceptibility patterns current as of March 2009, infection with an influenza A (H1N1) virus should be treated with either zanamivir or an adamantine (preferably rimantadine, because of its more favorable adverse effect profile); oseltamivir should not be used to treat infection with influenza A (H1N1). Infection with an influenza A (H3N2) virus should be treated with oseltamivir or zanamivir; the adamantanes should not be used to treat influenza A (H3N2). If subtype information is unavailable, influenza A should be treated either with zanamivir or with a combination of oseltamivir and rimantadine. Infection with an influenza B virus should be treated only with oseltamivir or zanamivir. Table 6 provides detailed information on antiviral regimens in appropriate age groups (A-II).
  2. Influenza vaccination is the primary tool to prevent influenza, and antiviral chemoprophylaxis is not a substitute for influenza vaccination. When influenza viruses are circulating in the community, chemoprophylaxis can be considered for high-risk persons during the 2 weeks after vaccination before an adequate immune response to inactivated vaccine develops (6 weeks for children who were not previously vaccinated and who require 2 doses of vaccine) (A-I).
  3. Antiviral chemoprophylaxis should be considered for adults and children aged ⩾1 year who are at high risk of developing complications from influenza for whom influenza vaccination is contraindicated, unavailable, or expected to have low effectiveness (e.g., persons who are significantly immunocompromised) (B-II). Contraindications to vaccination include anaphylactic hypersensitivity to eggs or other vaccine components; moderate-to-severe febrile illness; and, as a precaution, a history of Guillain-Barré syndrome within 6 weeks after receipt of a prior influenza vaccination [5].
  4. Antiviral chemoprophylaxis (in conjunction with prompt administration of the inactivated vaccine) should be considered for adults and children aged ⩾1 year who are at high risk of developing complications from influenza virus infection (table 3) and have not yet received influenza vaccine when influenza activity has already been detected in the community. Whenever possible, influenza vaccine should be administered, and vaccination should continue for recommended persons until influenza is no longer in community circulation (B-II).
  5. Antiviral chemoprophylaxis may be considered for unvaccinated adults, including health care workers, and for children aged ⩾1 year who are in close contact with persons at high risk of developing influenza complications during periods of influenza activity. Whenever possible, influenza vaccine should be administered; 2 weeks after administration, chemoprophylaxis may be discontinued (6 weeks for children who were not previously vaccinated and who require 2 doses of vaccine) (B-III).
  6. Antiviral chemoprophylaxis is recommended for all residents (vaccinated and unvaccinated) in institutions, such as nursing homes and long-term care facilities, that are experiencing influenza outbreaks (A-I).
  7. The strongest consideration for use of antiviral chemoprophylaxis should be given to persons at the highest risk of influenza-associated complications. The risk of influenza-associated complications is not identical among all high-risk persons, and antiviral chemoprophylaxis is likely to have the greatest benefit among those at highest risk of influenza complications and death, such as recipients of hematopoietic stem cell transplants (B-III).
  8. Antiviral chemoprophylaxis should be considered for persons at high-risk of developing complications from influenza if influenza vaccine is not available due to shortage. If vaccine is available, it should be administered to these persons (A-I).
  9. Antiviral chemoprophylaxis can be considered for high-risk persons (table 3) in situations in which there is documented low influenza vaccine clinical effectiveness because of the circulation of influenza virus strains that are antigenically distant from the vaccine strains, such that a substantial increase in vaccine failures is anticipated, as determined by federal, state, and local public health authorities (C-II).

When Should Antiviral Chemoprophylactic Regimens Be Started?

  1. In persons at high risk of complications who are not adequately protected as a result of poor immune responses (e.g., in persons who are significantly immunocompromised), lack of influenza vaccination, or ineffective vaccine (e.g., when antigenically distant strains are circulating), antiviral chemoprophylaxis should be initiated at the onset of sustained community influenza activity, as determined by local public health authorities (B-II).
  2. Antiviral chemoprophylaxis use for appropriate persons within households should be initiated when 1 family member develops suspected or confirmed influenza and any other family member is at high risk of complications secondary to infection, including infants aged <6 months (table 3). In this setting, all noninfected family members should receive antiviral chemoprophylaxis. Ideally, all eligible family members in such settings should be vaccinated, making chemoprophylaxis unnecessary (A-I).
  3. Antiviral chemoprophylaxis and other control measures should be initiated in institutions, such as hospitals and long-term care facilities (e.g., nursing homes), when an influenza outbreak is detected or when influenza is strongly suspected but the etiology of the outbreak has yet to be determined (A-II).

How Long Should Chemoprophylaxis Continue?

  1. If inactivated influenza vaccine is administered, antiviral chemoprophylaxis can generally be stopped 2 weeks after vaccination for persons in noninstitutional settings. Children aged <9 years who receive inactivated influenza vaccine for the first time require 2 doses of vaccine, with the second dose administered at least 4 weeks after the first dose; the immune response peaks 2 weeks after receipt of the second dose. Thus, a minimum of 6 weeks of chemoprophylaxis (i.e., chemoprophylaxis for at least 4 weeks after the first dose of vaccine and an additional 2 weeks of chemoprophylaxis after the second dose) would be needed, depending on the length of the delay between administration of the 2 vaccine doses (B-II).
  2. When antiviral chemoprophylaxis is used in a household after the diagnosis of influenza in 1 family member, chemoprophylaxis should be continued for 10 days (A-I).
  3. In persons at high risk of developing complications from influenza for whom influenza vaccination is contraindicated, unavailable, or expected to have low effectiveness (e.g., persons who are significantly immunocompromised), chemoprophylaxis should continue for the duration that influenza viruses are circulating in the community during influenza season (B-III).

What Antiviral Drugs Should Be Used for Chemoprophylaxis?

  1. Influenza viruses and their susceptibilities to available antiviral medications evolve rapidly. Clinicians should maintain familiarity with local patterns of influenza circulation in their communities throughout the influenza season. Current and frequently updated information on antiviral resistance and recommendations on antiviral use may be found at the CDC's influenza Web site (http://www.cdc.gov/flu). On the basis of antiviral susceptibility patterns current as of March 2009, either zanamivir or an adamantane (preferably rimantadine because of its more favorable adverse effect profile) should be used for influenza A (H1N1) chemoprophylaxis; oseltamivir should not be used for influenza A (H1N1) chemoprophylaxis. Either oseltamivir or zanamivir should be used for influenza A (H3N2) chemoprophylaxis; the adamantanes should not be used for influenza A (H3N2) chemoprophylaxis. If subtype information is unavailable, either zanamivir or a combination of oseltamivir and rimantadine should be used for influenza A chemoprophylaxis. Only oseltamivir or zanamivir should be used for influenza B chemoprophylaxis. Table 6 provides detailed information on antiviral regimens in appropriate age groups (A-I).

Outbreak Management in Institutional Settings

When Should an Influenza Outbreak Be Suspected in an Institution?

  1. During influenza season, when ⩾2 institutional residents manifest signs and symptoms of influenza-like illness within 72 h of each other, testing for influenza should occur. When influenza viruses are circulating in the community, even 1 positive laboratory result in conjunction with other compatible illnesses on the unit indicates that an outbreak of influenza is occurring (A-II).

What Is the Role for Testing Institutional Residents with Influenza-Like Illness after a Diagnosis of Influenza Has Already Been Established in ⩾1 Resident?

  1. After a single laboratory-confirmed case of influenza among residents has been identified in an institution, it is likely that subsequent cases of temporally associated influenza-like illness are also caused by influenza virus infection, although mixed outbreaks due to other respiratory pathogens may occur. Although it may not be possible to obtain specimens from all ill residents for influenza testing in the context of an outbreak, persons developing compatible symptoms >72 h after implementation of antiviral chemoprophylaxis or persons developing compatible symptoms who reside on previously unaffected units should be tested for influenza and other respiratory pathogens. If influenza test results are positive despite antiviral treatment, consider the possibility of a drug-resistant virus; the spread of influenza to previously unaffected areas of the facility where antiviral use has not been implemented; or multiple introductions of influenza from the community to facility residents (B-III).

Which Residents Should Be Treated with Antiviral Medications during an Outbreak?

  1. All residents with laboratory-confirmed influenza virus infection should be treated with an appropriate influenza antiviral medication. After 1 case of laboratory-confirmed influenza is detected in a facility resident, all persons in the facility subsequently developing influenza-like illness or other signs or symptoms consistent with influenza (e.g., isolated altered mental status in an elderly resident) should be considered for treatment with an influenza antiviral medication (A-III).

Which Residents Should Receive Antiviral Chemoprophylaxis during an Outbreak?

  1. During documented outbreaks of influenza in long-term care facilities, all residents should receive influenza antiviral chemoprophylaxis, regardless of influenza vaccination status. Ideally, chemoprophylaxis should be implemented on all floors and wards of the facility, because breakthrough cases frequently occur when antiviral medications are administered only to those persons on the affected unit or ward and not to all residents in the facility (A-I).

Which Health Care Personnel Should Receive Antiviral Chemoprophylaxis during an Outbreak?

  1. For all institutional employees who are unable to receive influenza vaccine or for whom vaccine is contraindicated or when the vaccine is expected to be ineffective (e.g., because of the circulation of influenza virus strains that are antigenically distant from the vaccine strains, such that a substantial increase in vaccine failures is anticipated), antiviral medications should be used for chemoprophylaxis (B-III). Contraindications to vaccination include anaphylactic hypersensitivity to eggs or other vaccine components, moderate-to-severe febrile illness, and, as a precaution, a history of Guillain-Barré syndrome within 6 weeks after a previous influenza vaccination [5].

How Long Should Antiviral Chemoprophylaxis Continue in Residents and Staff during an Outbreak?

  1. In the setting of an institutional outbreak, antiviral chemoprophylaxis should be continued for 14 days or for 7 days after the onset of symptoms in the last person infected, whichever is longer (A-II).

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