Open Access Research article

Occurrence of AH1N1 viral infection and clinical features in symptomatic patients who received medical care during the 2009 influenza pandemic in Central Mexico

Juan Pablo Castillo-Palencia12, Lucie Laflamme3 and Joel Monárrez-Espino13*

Author Affiliations

1 Master in Public Health Program, San Luis Potosi Autonomous University, San Luis Potosi, Mexico

2 Department of Epidemiological Surveillance, San Luis Potosi Health Services, San Luis Potosi, Mexico

3 Division of Global Health (IHCAR), Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institutet, Nobels väg 9, 17177, Stockholm, Sweden

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2012, 12:363  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-12-363

Published: 20 December 2012



In 2009 a new influenza serotype (AH1N1) was identified in Mexico that spread rapidly generating worldwide alarm. San Luis Potosi (SLP) was the third state with more cases reported in that year. The clinical identification of this flu posed a challenge to medical staff. This study aimed at estimating the AH1N1 infection, hospitalization and mortality rates, and at identifying related clinical features in persons who received medical care during the influenza pandemic.


Retrospective study with persons with flu-like illness who received public or private medical care in SLP from 15.03.09 to 30.10.09. Physicians purposely recorded many clinical variables. Samples from pharyngeal exudate or bronchoalveolar lavage were taken to diagnose AH1N1 using real-time PCR. Clinical predictors were identified using multivariate logistic regression with infection as a dependent variable. Odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were computed. Analyses were stratified by age group based on the distribution of positive cases.


From the 6922 persons with flu symptoms 6158 had available laboratory results from which 44.9% turned out to be positive for AH1N1. From those, 5.8% were hospitalized and 0.7% died. Most positive cases were aged 5–14 years and, in this subgroup, older age was positively associated with A H1N1 infection (95% CI 1.05-1.1); conversely, in patients aged 15 years or more, older age was negatively associated with the infection (95% CI 0.97-0.98). Fever was related in those aged 15 years or more (95% CI 1.4-3.5), and headache (95% CI 1.2-2.2) only in the 0–14 years group. Clear rhinorrhea and cough were positively related in both groups (p < 0.05). Arthralgia, dyspnea and vaccination history were related to lesser risk in persons aged 15 years or more, just as dyspnea, purulent rhinorrhea and leukocytosis were in the 0–14 years group.


This study identified various signs and symptoms for the clinical diagnosis of AH1N1 influenza and revealed that some of them can be age-specific.