Influenza Virus-Related Critical Illness

Prevention, Diagnosis, Treatment

Eric J. Chow; Joshua D. Doyle; Timothy M. Uyeki


Crit Care. 2019;23(214) 

In This Article


Annual seasonal influenza epidemics of variable severity result in significant morbidity and mortality in the United States (U.S.) and worldwide.[1–3] In temperate climate countries, including the U.S., influenza activity peaks during the winter months whereas in tropical regions influenza activity may be more variable.[4–6] Most persons with symptomatic influenza virus infection have self-limited uncomplicated upper respiratory tract illness. One study estimated that during 2010–2016, approximately 8.3% of the U.S. population experienced symptomatic influenza each year.[7] However, complications may result in severe illness, including fatal outcomes. During 2010–2018, an estimated 4.3–23 million medical visits, 140,000–960,000 hospitalizations, and 12,000–79,000 deaths were associated with influenza each year in the U.S..[8] Another study estimated that 18,000–96,000 influenza-related intensive care unit (ICU) admissions occur annually in the U.S..[9] There are an estimated 291,000–646,000 respiratory deaths attributed to seasonal influenza each year worldwide.[2] Here, we review strategies for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of influenza virus infections in the ICU (Table 1).