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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014, Article ID 241298, 5 pages
Research Article

Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses Involved in Severe Acute Respiratory Disease in Northern Italy during the Pandemic and Postpandemic Period (2009–2011)

1Department of Biomedical Sciences for Health, University of Milan, Via C. Pascal 36, 20133 Milan, Italy
2CIRI-IT, Department of Health Sciences, University of Genoa, Via A. Pastore 1, 16132 Genoa, Italy
3Laboratory of Experimental Virology, Department of Medical Microbiology, Center for Infection and Immunity Amsterdam (CINIMA), Academic Medical Center of the University of Amsterdam, Meibergdreef 15, 1105 AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands
4Tehran University of Medical Sciences, 16 Azar Avenue, Enghelab Square, Tehran 1417614411, Iran

Received 11 February 2014; Revised 26 May 2014; Accepted 27 May 2014; Published 12 June 2014

Academic Editor: Rudolf K. Braun

Copyright © 2014 Elena Pariani et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Since 2009 pandemic, international health authorities recommended monitoring severe and complicated cases of respiratory disease, that is, severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). We evaluated the proportion of SARI/ARDS cases and deaths due to influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 infection and the impact of other respiratory viruses during pandemic and postpandemic period (2009–2011) in northern Italy; additionally we searched for unknown viruses in those cases for which diagnosis remained negative. 206 respiratory samples were collected from SARI/ARDS cases and analyzed by real-time RT-PCR/PCR to investigate influenza viruses and other common respiratory pathogens; also, a virus discovery technique (VIDISCA-454) was applied on those samples tested negative to all pathogens. Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus was detected in 58.3% of specimens, with a case fatality rate of 11.3%. The impact of other respiratory viruses was 19.4%, and the most commonly detected viruses were human rhinovirus/enterovirus and influenza A(H3N2). VIDISCA-454 enabled the identification of one previously undiagnosed measles infection. Nearly 22% of SARI/ARDS cases did not obtain a definite diagnosis. In clinical practice, great efforts should be dedicated to improving the diagnosis of severe respiratory disease; the introduction of innovative molecular technologies, as VIDISCA-454, will certainly help in reducing such “diagnostic gap.”