Neurologic complications of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09: surveillance in 6 pediatric hospitals

Gulam Khandaker, Yvonne Zurynski, Jim Buttery, Helen Marshall, Peter C. Richmond, Russell C. Dale, Jenny Royle, Mike Gold, Tom Snelling, Bruce Whitehead, Cheryl Jones, Leon Heron, Mary McCaskill, Kristine Macartney, Elizabeth J. Elliott, Robert Booy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: We sought to determine the range and extent of neurologic complications due to pandemic influenza A (H1N1) 2009 infection (pH1N1'09) in children hospitalized with influenza. Methods: Active hospital-based surveillance in 6 Australian tertiary pediatric referral centers between June 1 and September 30, 2009, for children aged <15 years with laboratoryconfirmed pH1N1'09. Results: A total of 506 children with pH1N1'09 were hospitalized, of whom 49 (9.7%) had neurologic complications; median age 4.8 years (range 0.5-12.6 years) compared with 3.7 years (0.01-14.9 years) in those without complications. Approximately one-half (55.1%) of the children with neurologic complications had preexisting medical conditions, and 42.8% had preexisting neurologic conditions. On presentation, only 36.7% had the triad of cough, fever, and coryza/ runny nose, whereas 38.7% had only 1 or no respiratory symptoms. Seizure was the most common neurologic complication (7.5%). Others included encephalitis/encephalopathy (1.4%), confusion/disorientation (1.0%), loss of consciousness (1.0%), and paralysis/Guillain-Barre' syndrome (0.4%). A total of 30.6% needed intensive care unit (ICU) admission, 24.5% required mechanical ventilation, and 2 (4.1%) died. The mean length of stay in hospital was 6.5 days (median 3 days) and mean ICU stay was 4.4 days (median 1.5 days). Conclusions: Neurologic complications are relatively common among children admitted with influenza, and can be life-threatening. The lack of specific treatment for influenza-related neurologic complications underlines the importance of early diagnosis, use of antivirals, and universal influenza vaccination in children. Clinicians should consider influenza in children with neurologic symptoms even with a paucity of respiratory symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1474-1481
Number of pages8
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


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