A Comparison of the Epidemiological Characteristics Between Influenza and COVID-19 Patients: A Retrospective, Observational Cohort Study.

Omar Naji, Iman Darwish, Khaoula Bessame, Tejal Vaghela, Anja Hawkins, Mohamed Elsakka, Hema Merai, Jeremy Lowe, Miriam Schechter, Samuel Moses, Amanda Busby, Keith Sullivan, David Wellsted, Muhammad Zamir, Hala Kandil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background and objective
It is crucial to make early differentiation between coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and seasonal influenza infections at the time of a patient's presentation to the emergency department (ED). In light of this, this study aimed to identify key epidemiological, initial laboratory, and radiological differences that would enable early recognition during co-circulation.
Methods
This was a retrospective, observational cohort study. All adult patients presenting to our ED at the Watford General Hospital, UK, with a laboratory-confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 (2019/20) or influenza (2018/19) infection were included in this study. Demographic, laboratory, and radiological data were collected. Binary logistic regression was employed to determine features associated with COVID-19 infection rather than influenza. Results Chest radiographs suggestive of viral pneumonitis and older age (≥80 years) were associated with increased odds of having COVID-19 [odds ratio (OR): 47.00, 95% confidence interval (CI): 21.63-102.13 and OR: 64.85, 95% CI: 19.96-210.69 respectively]. Low eosinophils (<0.02 x 10 9/L) were found to increase the odds of COVID-19 (OR: 2.12, 95% CI: 1.44-3.10, p<0.001).

Conclusions
Gaining awareness about the epidemiological, biological, and radiologic presentation of influenza-like illness can be useful for clinicians in ED to differentiate between COVID-19 and influenza. This study showed that older age, eosinopenia, and radiographic evidence of viral pneumonitis significantly increase the odds of having COVID-19 compared to influenza. Further research is needed to determine if these findings are affected by acquired or natural immunity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e49280
Number of pages10
JournalCureus
Volume15
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2023

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