The burden of influenza among ambulatory patients is still relatively unknown, although this knowledge is crucial for evaluating strategies against influenza. We estimated the impact of influenza in terms of uncomplicated morbidity and its consequences on health care utilization and lost workdays.
A national prospective household contact study between January 4, 2000, and March 15, 2000, in France recruited the households of 946 persons who visited a physician (index cases); 395 households with influenza-positive index cases completed the follow-up, which assessed the clinical impact of influenza, medical visits, treatment, and lost workdays in these index cases and their contacts.
Of 817 assessable household contacts, 313 developed clinical influenza (secondary cases); 178 (57%) of them visited a physician at least once (consulting secondary cases). The median duration of illness was 8 days (95% confidence interval [CI], 7-8 days) in index cases, 7 days (95% CI, 7-8 days) in consulting secondary cases, and 4 days (95% CI, 3-5 days) in nonconsulting secondary cases (P<.001); the median duration of treatment in these groups was 8 days (95% CI, 8-9 days), 8 days (95% CI, 7-10 days), and 5 days (95% CI, 4-6 days), respectively (P<.001); and their mean ± SD number of lost workdays was 4.0 ± 2.8, 2.9 ± 2.5, and 0.3 ± 0.6, respectively, in working adults (P<.001).
These results confirm the substantial burden of illness of influenza. The results should be useful for evaluating the cost-effectiveness of strategies against influenza.