Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Nosocomial outbreak of the pandemic Influenza A (H1N1) 2009 in critical hematologic patients during seasonal influenza 2010-2011: detection of oseltamivir resistant variant viruses

Caterina P Pollara13*, Giorgio Piccinelli1, Giuseppe Rossi2, Chiara Cattaneo2, Francesca Perandin1, Silvia Corbellini1, Dolores De Tomasi1 and Carlo Bonfanti1

Author affiliations

1 Laboratory of Microbiology and Virology, A. O. Spedali Civili, Brescia, University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy

2 Department of Haematology, A. O. Spedali Civili, Brescia, Italy

3 Institute of Microbiology, A. O. Spedali Civili, Brescia, University of Brescia, P.le Spedali Civili, 1 25123 Brescia, Italy

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Citation and License

BMC Infectious Diseases 2013, 13:127  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-13-127

Published: 7 March 2013



The pandemic influenza A (H1N1) 2009 (H1N1pdm09) virus infection caused illness and death among people worldwide, particularly in hematologic/oncologic patients because influenza infected individuals can shed virus for prolonged periods, thus increasing the chances for the development of drug-resistant strains such as oseltamivir-resistant (OST-r) variant.


The aim of our study was to retrospectively evaluate the clinical importance of OST-r variant in circulating strains of the pandemic H1N1pdm09 virus. By means of RT-PCR and Sanger sequencing we analysed the presence of OST-r variant in 76 H1N1pdm09 laboratory-confirmed cases, hospitalized at the hematologic/oncologic ward at Spedali Civili of Brescia –Italy.


Out of 76 hospitalized hematologic/oncologic patients, 23 patients (30.2%) were infected by H1N1pdm09 virus. Further investigation revealed that 3 patients were positive for the OST-r variant carrying the H275Y mutation. All the 23 infected patients were immuno-compromised, and were under treatment or had been treated previously with oseltamivir. Three patients died (13%) after admission to intensive care unit and only one of them developed H275Y mutation.


Our retrospective observational study shows that pandemic influenza A (H1N1) 2009 virus can cause significant morbidity and even mortality in hematologic/oncologic patients and confirms the high rate of nosocomial transmission of pandemic H1N1pdm09 virus in these critical subjects. Indeed, the reduction in host defences in these hospitalized patients favoured the prolonged use of antiviral therapy and permitted the development of OST-r strain. Strategies as diagnostic vigilance, early isolation of patients and seasonal influenza A(H1N1) vaccination may prevent transmission of influenza in high risk individuals.

Pandemic; H1N1; Oseltamivir; Resistance