U.S. CDC-Suzhou CDC Collaboration: Aids Recovery of Six Pregnant Women Hospitalized with Severe Influenza
Suzhou CDC laboratorians testing samples collected from pregnant women for influenza
Since 2015, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has collaborated in China with Suzhou CDC on an active respiratory illness surveillance project to understand the burden of influenza illness among pregnant women in Suzhou City. In January 2018, the project team detected 97 new influenza infections within a cohort of 4,900 pregnant women; six went to Suzhou Municipal Hospital with influenza-related pneumonia. As a result of timely testing at the Suzhou CDC laboratory, doctors at Suzhou Municipal Hospital initiated early antiviral treatment (oseltamivir), and all six pregnant women are now recovering. Doctor Li Yong, chief clinician of the respiratory infections ward at Suzhou Municipal Hospital, shared his experience treating one severely ill pregnant woman. “In both China and abroad, there are reports of influenza infection being fatal for both the pregnant woman and her fetus. It took a team effort to treat the clinical complications of influenza infection in this pregnant woman and her baby. I am glad that both mother and baby are now well.”
The current winter influenza season has intense and severe in both the United States and China. When influenza activity is widespread, public health professionals and clinicians are most concerned about groups of people at high risk for severe illness or complications from influenza infection, such as older adults, young children, people with chronic diseases, and pregnant women. However, in China, most pregnant women and their health care providers do not know that influenza can cause serious illness in pregnant women. Although seasonal influenza vaccination is the most effective way to prevent influenza infection, influenza vaccination coverage among pregnant women in China is almost zero. As a result of this collaborative surveillance project, Suzhou physicians are now more aware that influenza can cause serious illness in pregnant women. This knowledge could increase their willingness to recommend seasonal influenza vaccination for pregnant women in the future.
The U.S. CDC-Suzhou CDC project team is encouraged that this influenza surveillance project positively influenced the clinical care of pregnant women with severe influenza illness in Suzhou. They are hopeful the project will help promote seasonal influenza vaccination among pregnant women in the future. This project is a great example of linking public health with clinical practice so that individual patients may receive better clinical care, and the information collected will likely improve the prevention and control of influenza infection among pregnant women more broadly throughout China.