Author(s): Fendrick AM, Monto AS, Nightengale B, Sarnes M
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Viral respiratory tract infection (VRTI) is the most common illness in humans. Despite the high incidence, the economic impact of non-influenza-related VRTI has not been rigorously explored. Our objectives were to obtain an updated incidence of non-influenza-related VRTI in the United States and to quantify the health care resource use (direct costs) and productivity losses (indirect costs) associated with these infections. METHODS: A nationwide telephone survey of US households (N = 4051) was conducted between November 3, 2000, and February 12, 2001 to obtain a representative estimate of the self-reported incidence of non-influenza-related VRTI and related treatment patterns. Direct treatment costs measured included outpatient clinician encounters, use of over-the-counter and prescription drugs, and associated infectious complications of non-influenza-related VRTI. Absenteeism estimates for infected individuals and parents of infected children were extrapolated from National Health Interview Survey data. RESULTS: Of survey respondents, 72\% reported a non-influenza-related VRTI within the past year. Respondents who experienced a self-reported non-influenza-related VRTI averaged 2.5 episodes annually. When these rates are extrapolated to the entire US population, approximately 500 million non-influenza-related VRTI episodes occur per year. Similarly, if the treatment patterns reported by the respondents are extended to the population, the total economic impact of non-influenza-related VRTI approaches $40 billion annually (direct costs, $17 billion per year; and indirect costs, $22.5 billion per year). CONCLUSIONS: Largely because of the high attack rate, non-influenza-related VRTI imposes a greater economic burden than many other clinical conditions. The pending availability of effective antiviral therapies warrants increased attention be paid to this common and expensive illness.
This article was published in Arch Intern Med
and referenced in Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals