Nosocomial outbreak of influenza A H3N2 in an inpatient oncology unit related to health care workers presenting to work while ill

Kerry E. Wilson*, Shannon M. Wood, Kurt E. Schaecher, Karen B. Cromwell, Joan Godich, Melissa H. Knapp, Marvin J. Sklar, Daniel Ewing, Kanakatte Raviprakash, Gabriel Defang, Timothy J. Whitman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Objective: To describe an outbreak of influenza A in an oncology unit, highlighting infection control methods implemented, and examining reasons health care workers (HCWs) present to work with influenza-like illness (ILI). Methods: Confirmed cases were defined by the presence of ILI and a positive nasopharyngeal polymerase chain reaction swab for influenza A H3. Probable cases were defined as exposed HCWs with ILI who were unavailable for polymerase chain reaction testing. Infection prevention measures included closing the ward for new admissions, oseltamivir prophylaxis for all exposed groups, and dismissal from work of HCWs with ILI until resolution of symptoms. An anonymous survey of the cases in our HCWs was conducted to better elucidate reasons behind presenteeism. Results: Over the course of 8 days (November 16, 2017, to November 22, 2017), influenza was diagnosed in 7 of 10 inpatients on the oncology ward, 16 HCWs (14 confirmed, 2 probable), and 2 visitors. The suspected index case was an HCW. Of the surveyed HCWs, 64% presented to work despite feeling ill (ie, presenteeism). The most common reason was “sense of duty as a health care worker.” Conclusions: This nosocomial outbreak of influenza highlights the challenges of protecting inpatients from viral respiratory tract infections. HCWs and patient visitors with ILI should avoid work or visiting until resolution of peak respiratory symptoms and adhere to strict respiratory etiquette.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)683-687
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Infection Control
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Hospital epidemiology
  • Presenteeism


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