Seasonal influenza virus infections are an important cause of severe acute respiratory illness. While most influenza virus infections are self-limiting and do not result in hospitalisation, complications and deaths can be seen in any age group, including patients with no underlying risk factors for severe illness. Admissions to critical care units are to be expected, particularly in winter months, and critical care teams should be prepared to care for patients with complicated influenza.
The guidance has been developed by Public Health England (PHE) in association with the Intensive Care Society (ICS), the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine (FICM), and the Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCoA). The guidance provides advice and recommendations for healthcare professionals who provide critical care to adults with seasonal influenza. Areas covered include sampling and laboratory diagnosis, antiviral therapy, bacterial complications, and infection prevention and control measures.
Recommendations consider the available evidence and expert opinions. Links to related PHE guidance are provided within the document. The guidance will be reviewed periodically and updated when necessary; users are advised to check the PHE website to ensure that current guidance is being followed.
The guidance should be read in conjunction with PHE’s influenza antiviral guidance, and PHE guidance on infection prevention and control measures for acute respiratory infections.
Separate guidance is available for avian influenza. In the event of an influenza pandemic, specific guidance will be made available by PHE and the Department of Health.