H1N1 more potent than normal flu for absenteeism: Survey

Those affected by pandemic had average absence of 25 hours

H1N1 contributed to higher absenteeism rates among Canadians compared to the normal flu season, according to a study from BMC Infectious Diseases.

Employees who took time off because of the seasonal flu took an average of 14 hours off compared to and average absence of 25 hours for the pandemic strain, according to the study which looked at Statistics Canada's monthly labour force survey.

Absenteeism rates due to influenza were estimated at 12 per cent per year for seasonal influenza over the 1997-1998 to 2008-2009 flu seasons compared to 13 per cent for the two H1N1 pandemic waves in 2009, said the study.

Absenteeism due to seasonal influenza has typically ranged from five per cent to 20 per cent, said BMC, with higher rates associated with multiple circulating strains. Absenteeism rates for the 2009 pandemic were similar to those occurring for seasonal influenza. Employees took more time off due to the pandemic strain than was typical for seasonal influenza.

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