BACKGROUND:

The extent to which influenza A and B infection differs remains uncertain.

METHODS:

Using active surveillance data from the Canadian Immunization Monitoring Program Active at 12 pediatric hospitals, we compared clinical characteristics and outcomes of children ≤16 years admitted with laboratory-confirmed influenza B or seasonal influenza A. We also examined factors associated with ICU admission in children hospitalized with influenza B.

RESULTS:

Over 8 nonpandemic influenza seasons (2004-2013), we identified 1510 influenza B and 2645 influenza A cases; median ages were 3.9 and 2.0 years, respectively (P < .0001). Compared with influenza A patients, influenza B patients were more likely to have a vaccine-indicated condition (odds ratio [OR] = 1.30; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.14–1.47). Symptoms more often associated with influenza B were headache, abdominal pain, and myalgia (P < .0001 for all symptoms after adjustment for age and health status). The proportion of deaths attributable to influenza was significantly greater for influenza B (1.1%) than influenza A (0.4%); adjusted for age and health status, OR was 2.65 (95% CI = 1.18–5.94). A similar adjusted OR was obtained for all-cause mortality (OR = 2.95; 95% CI = 1.34–6.49). Among healthy children with influenza B, age ≥10 years (relative to <6 months) was associated with the greatest odds of ICU admission (OR = 5.79; 95% CI = 1.91–17.57).

CONCLUSIONS:

Mortality associated with pediatric influenza B infection was greater than that of influenza A. Among healthy children hosptialized with influenza B, those 10 years and older had a significant risk of ICU admission.

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