Sangkakam A, Hemachudha P, Saraya AW, Thaweethee-S. Detection of influenza virus in rectal swabs of patients admitted in hospital for febrile illnesses in Thailand. SAGE Open Med. 2021 Jan 22;9:2050312121989631
Methods: A retrospective study was conducted on all patients positive for influenza virus and initially recruited as part of the PREDICT project from 2017 to 2018. The objectives of the study were to investigate whether rectal swab could aid in improving influenza detection, and if there was any correlation between gastrointestinal disturbances and severity of infection, using length of hospital stay as an indicator of severity.
Results: Of the 51 influenza-positive patients, 12 had detectable influenza virus in their rectal swab. Among these 12 rectal swab positive patients, influenza virus was not detected in the nasopharyngeal swab of three of them. Gastrointestinal symptoms were observed for 28.2% patients with a negative rectal swab negative and 25.0% patients with a positive rectal swab. Average length of hospital stay was 4.2 days for rectal swab positive group and 3.7 days for rectal swab negative group. This difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.288).
Conclusions: There is no correlation between influenza virus detection in rectal swab and gastrointestinal disturbances or disease severity, and there is currently insufficient evidence to support replicative ability in the gastrointestinal tract.
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