Influenza can be `deadly` for new mums and obese people

Washington: New mothers and obese people, two groups that not typically identified as risk groups, have been found at a greater risk of death and other severe outcomes from influenza, according to a study.

But, in contrast to current assumption, ethnic minorities such as American Aboriginal People and pregnant women were not found to have more complicated influenza and would not need priority vaccination.

Lead author Dr. Dominik Mertz, an assistant professor of medicine of McMaster`s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, said that policy makers and public health organizations need to recognize the poor quality of evidence that has previously supported decisions on who receives vaccines during an epidemic.

He said that if people can define the risk groups we can optimally allocate vaccines, and that is particularly important when and if there is vaccine shortage, say during a new pandemic.

The researchers reviewed 239 observational studies between 1918 and 2011, looking at risk factors for complications of influenza including developing pneumonia or needing ventilator support, admission to hospital or its intensive care unit or dying.

Dr. Mark Loeb, senior author on the paper. He is also a microbiologist and professor of medicine of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, said that these data reinforce the need to carefully define those conditions that lead to complications following infection with influenza.

The report has been published online in the BMJ, the journal of the British Medical Association.


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