Influenza surveillance and pandemic requirements

Discussions of interpandemic flu

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Discussion topics from Pandemic Influenza, 2nd Edition
Edited by Jonathan Van-Tam, MBE BmedSci (Hons) BMBS DM FFPH FRSPH, Professor of Health Protection University of Nottingham, UK and Chloe Sellwood, BSc (Hons) PhD FRSPH DipHEP, Pandemic and Seasonal Influenza Resilience Manager, NHS London, UK
© CAB International 2013. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronically, mechanically, by photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owners.

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Influenza surveillance and pandemic requirements

J Watson and RG Pebody

What is the purpose of influenza surveillance?
Influenza surveillance provides an early warning of increasing disease activity in the population; it informs government, healthcare professionals and the wider community of the extent and severity of current and past activity, and provides information for treating, preventing and controlling influenza.

How is surveillance information used?
Information from coordinated international epidemiological and virological surveillance provides information about the potential threat to populations and the probable effectiveness of control measures. Healthcare professionals use surveillance information for individual patient management, and to organize health services to cope with epidemic periods. Surveillance gives the wider public an understanding of how likely it is that they will become ill, and businesses use the information to plan for work absences due to illness. During epidemics, surveillance data is used to estimate the impact of influenza on the whole population as well as on specific subgroups and measure the effectiveness of interventions – in particular influenza vaccine.

What are the different types of surveillance information?
There are many sources of influenza surveillance data including: consultations in primary care, hospital admissions, virological data, death registrations, laboratory virology data, sickness absence data, calls to health help lines and internet queries on influenza, and sales of over-the-counter cough, cold and flu remedies.

What are the key elements of pandemic influenza surveillance?
The key elements of pandemic surveillance are early identification of novel influenza virus activity, assessment of the epidemiological and virological characteristics of early cases of confirmed pandemic influenza, monitoring spread and impact, assessing severity and monitoring of countermeasures.

"Surveillance: the on-going systematic collection and analysis of data to inform action to prevent and control a disease."


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