Vuichard-Gysin D, et al. Development and validation of clinical prediction models to distinguish influenza from other viruses causing acute respiratory infections in children and adults. PLoS One. 2019 Feb 11;14(2):e0212050
Predictive models have been developed for influenza but have seldom been validated. Typically they have focused on patients meeting a definition of infection that includes fever. Less is known about how models perform when more symptoms are considered. We, therefore, aimed to create and internally validate predictive scores of acute respiratory infection (ARI) symptoms to diagnose influenza virus infection as confirmed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) from respiratory specimens. Data from a completed trial to study the indirect effect of influenza immunization in Hutterite communities were randomly split into two independent groups for model derivation and validation. We applied different multivariable modelling techniques and constructed Receiver Operating Characteristics (ROC) curves to determine predictive indexes at different cut-points. From 2008-2011, 3288 first seasonal ARI episodes and 321 (9.8%) influenza positive events occurred in 2202 individuals. In children up to 17 years, the significant predictors of influenza virus infection were fever, chills, and cough along with being of age 6 years and older. In adults, presence of chills and cough but not fever were highly specific for influenza virus infection (sensitivity 30%, specificity 96%). Performance of the models in the validation set was not significantly different. The predictors were consistently found to be significant irrespective of the multivariable technique. Symptomatic predictors of influenza virus infection vary between children and adults. The scores could assist clinicians in their test and treat decisions but the results need to be externally validated prior to application in clinical practice.
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