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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


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Subtypes of Influenza Virus Infection and Outcomes in Individuals Older than 65 Years of Age in Poland in the 2016/2017 to 2019/2020 Epidemic Seasons

Katarzyna Łuniewska, Karol Szymański, Katarzyna Kondratiuk, Ewelina Hallmann, Lidia B. Brydak

(Department of Influenza Research, National Influenza Centre, National Institute of Public Health – National Institute of Hygiene, Warsaw, Poland)

Med Sci Monit 2021; 27:e929243

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.929243

BACKGROUND: Influenza is a viral disease causing many deaths each season. With aging, the human immune system becomes weaker, so people over the age of 65 years are at higher risk of complications after influenza infections. This population study, conducted in Poland, aimed to identify the subtypes of influenza virus infection and outcomes in individuals more than 65 years of age in the 2016/2017 to 2019/2020 epidemic seasons.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: The research materials were nose and throat swabs. Research was conducted in 16 Voivodship Sanitary and Epidemiological Stations and in the Department of Influenza Research, National Influenza Centre, NIPH-NIH. Methods of RNA isolation depended on the laboratory where the isolation was performed. In all laboratories, quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) was used to determine the influenza virus type and subtype.
RESULTS: The analysis of the incidence of influenza among people over the age of 65 included the 2016/2017, 2017/2018, 2018/2019, and 2019/2020 influenza epidemic seasons. We analyzed the percentage of positive samples, the dynamics of epidemic seasons, and the percentage share of influenza viruses in the 65+ age group, according to the epidemic season and percentage of deaths.
CONCLUSIONS: This population study showed that, in Poland, between the 2016/2017 and 2019/2020 epidemic seasons, people who were more than 65 years of age were at higher risk of influenza virus infection and its complications. The findings support the importance of seasonal influenza vaccination in the population over age 65 years.

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