Background: The impact of influenza on morbidity and hospitalization in the tropics and subtropics is poorly quantified. Uniquely, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has computerized hospital discharge diagnoses on 95% of total bed days, allowing disease burden for a welldefined population to be accurately assessed. Methods and Findings: Influenza-associated morbidity and hospitalization was assessed by Poisson regression models for weekly counts of hospitalizations in Hong Kong during 1996 to 2000, using proportions of positive influenza types A (H1N1 and H3N2) and B isolations in specimens sent for laboratory diagnosis as measures of influenza virus circulation. We adjusted for annual trend, seasonality, temperature, and relative humidity, as well as respiratory syncytial virus circulation. We found that influenza was significantly associated with hospitalization for acute respiratory disease (International Classification of Diseases version 9 codes [ICD9] 460-466 and 480-487) and its subcategory pneumonia and influenza (ICD9 480-487) for all age groups. The annual rates of excess hospitalization per 100,000 population for acute respiratory diseases for the age groups 0-14, 15-39, 40-64, 65-74, and 75+ were 163.3 (95% confidence interval [CI], 135-190), 6.0 (95% CI, 2.7-8.9), 14.9 (95% CI, 10.7-18.8), 83.8 (95% CI, 61.2-104.2), and 266 (95% CI, 198.7-330.2), respectively. Influenza was also associated with hospitalization for cerebrovascular disease (ICD9 430-438) for those aged over 75 y (55.4; 95% CI, 23.1-87.8); ischemic heart disease (ICD9 410-414) for the age group 40-64 y (5.3; 95% CI, 0.5-9.5) and over 75 y (56.4; 95% CI, 21.1-93.4); and diabetes mellitus (ICD9 250) for all age groups older than 40 y. Conclusions: Influenza has a major impact on hospitalization due to cardio-respiratory diseases as well as on cerebrovascular disease, ischemic heart disease, and diabetes mellitus in the tropics and subtropics. Better utilization of influenza vaccine during annual epidemics in the tropics will enhance global vaccine production capacity and allow for better preparedness to meet the surge in demand that is inevitable in confronting a pandemic.
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