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Volume 50, Number 2, April 2017

Control of an H1N1 outbreak in a correctional facility in central Taiwan 

Wen-Cheng Chao, Po-Yu Liu, Chieh-Liang Wu


Corresponding author:

Chieh-Liang Wu,
Corresponding author. Center for Quality Management, Taichung Veterans General Hospital, 1650 Taiwan Boulevard Section 4, Taichung, Taiwan, 40705. 


Background and purpose: 

Controlling the outbreak of H1N1 in correctional facilities is difficult due to the inevitable close and prolonged contact between inmates. The current study reports an H1N1 outbreak in a correction facility and investigates the effectiveness of oseltamivir to control the spread of H1N1. 



All 2690 inmates at the prison received medical service from a single hospital. A list of patients with a diagnosis of influenza was compiled based on medical diagnoses with respiratory symptoms during the outbreak period. The outbreak was then investigated using both chart review and questionnaires. 



In the 4-week outbreak period, 24.6% (663/2690) of inmates experienced influenza-associated symptoms, 50.5% (335/663) fulfilled the criteria for influenza-like illness (ILI) with fever, and the overall attack rate of ILI was 12.8%. Twelve inmates were admitted for complicated influenza, and three of them experienced respiratory failure. Oseltamivir was provided at the end of the 2nd week, and the effectiveness of oseltamivir in the 1004 inmates from seven major sections in the prison was analyzed. The ILI incidence rate reduced from 12.6 ± 4.1% between the 1st and 2nd weeks to 4.8 ± 2.4% between the 3rd and 4th weeks (p = 0.018) after the oseltamivir intervention. In the 878 uninfected inmates 47.0% (413/878) of inmates received prophylactic oseltamivir at the end of the 2nd week, the incidence of ILI was lower than those without prophylaxis (6.2% versus 2.4%; p = 0.013).




H1N1 influenza spread rapidly in the correctional facility. The use of oseltamivir may be a practical intervention to control an H1N1 outbreak an enclosed environment such as this. 


Key words:

correctional facility, H1N1, influenza, oseltamivir, outbreak