The natural history of viral shedding from the upper respiratory tract of the new pandemic 2009 influenza A(H1N1) and the effect of oseltamivir treatment were uncertain.
A retrospective cohort study involving 145 consecutive patients with specimens positive by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction for the matrix and new H1 genes was conducted.
The nontreated and oseltamivir-treated patients were comparable in their viral load at presentation, demography, and the presenting symptoms. No correlation was observed between viral load with age and number of symptoms. Viral load of nasopharyngeal aspirate (NPA) was significantly lower in treated than in nontreated patients at day 5 after symptom onset. When oseltamivir was initiated ≤ 2 days after symptom onset, a greater rate of viral load reduction in NPA of treated patients than that of nontreated patients was observed (−0.638 [95% CI, −0.809 to −0.466] vs −0.409 [95% CI, −0.663 to −0.185] log10 copies/mL/d post-symptom onset), and the viral load was undetectable at day 6 after oseltamivir initiation, which was 1 day earlier than that of those whose treatment was initiated > 2 days of symptom onset. The viral load was inversely correlated with concomitant absolute lymphocyte count in nontreated patients (Pearson correlation coefficient [r] = −0.687, P = .001) and treated patients (Pearson r = −0.365, P < .001). Resolution of fever was 1.4 days later in nontreated than treated patients (P = .012)
The natural viral load profile was described. Oral oseltamivir suppresses viral load more effectively when given early in mild cases of pandemic 2009 influenza A(H1N1) infections.