PADOH Advisory – Testing for Influenza in Persons with Severe Respiratory Illness

The Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH) released a health advisory on Friday, June 23, 2023. Below is a summary.

  • A global outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5N1) in wild birds and poultry has been ongoing since 2021. Poultry and wild bird outbreaks have been detected in 47 U.S. states, including Pennsylvania.
  • Thirteen human cases of A(H5N1) influenza have been reported globally since January 2022, including one case in the U.S. Among these cases, six individuals were hospitalized, and two died.
  • Given the severity of recent human infections with A(H5N1) viruses, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is asking that clinicians continue to test for influenza in patients with respiratory illness throughout the summer, particularly individuals who are severely ill.
  • Hospitals and clinical laboratories should forward any specimens that are positive for influenza A and cannot be subtyped, or specimens from severely ill patients for which subtyping is not done, to the state public health laboratory for further testing.
  • Clinicians should always consider influenza testing, including subtyping, in patients with respiratory illness who are at higher risk of contracting novel influenza, such as those with a history of exposure to wild birds, poultry, or swine.
  • If you have any questions, please call DOH at 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258) or your local health department.

Click here to view the entire health advisory on the PADOH website. (PDF)

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