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Thursday, February 01, 2018

2017-2018 Community Influenza Surveillance Report: Update of Current Status

Overall Assessment

Influenza activity, particularly influenza B, continues to be high in the Middlesex-London region.

Analysis and Action

The influenza season is well underway in the Middlesex-London region and across Canada. To date, there have been numerous laboratory-confirmed cases, hospitalizations, and institutional outbreaks reported. The number and proportion of influenza B cases is higher than expected, with influenza B identified in two-thirds of reported cases and institutional outbreaks. In a typical year, widespread influenza activity lasts for two to four weeks and there are some indications that we may be nearing a peak in local influenza activity for this season. Of note, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that influenza activity in the US this year is as widespread as during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic year, and the number of hospitalizations and deaths is approaching that seen during the severe 2014-2015 season.

Quadrivalent inactivated influenza vaccine (QIV) is now recommended for all unimmunized individuals in the Middlesex-London region, rather than trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine (TIV). All unimmunized staff in hospitals, long-term care homes and retirement homes in the Middlesex-London region are a high priority for immunization. Local residents who have not yet received their influenza immunization are also encouraged to receive QIV. There is no evidence to support the need to re-vaccinate individuals who have already received TIV.

In addition to getting immunized, local residents can take a number of other steps to prevent becoming sick. Handwashing is an effective way to prevent many illnesses, including influenza. Local residents should stay home when feeling sick, cover coughs and sneezes, and clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces frequently.

Details of Current Local Activity

Between January 21st and 27th, 19 laboratory confirmed cases of influenza A and 40 cases of influenza B were reported to the Health Unit. There were 29 hospitalizations and five deaths reported; as well, five new influenza outbreaks were declared last week.

Since September 1st, 2017, there have been 144 laboratory-confirmed influenza A cases, 286 cases of influenza B, and two cases infected with both influenza A and B reported to the Health Unit. Among these cases there have been 214 hospitalizations and 19 deaths. As well, since September 1st, there have been 12 influenza A outbreaks, 23 influenza B outbreaks, and four outbreaks with both influenza A and B declared in hospitals, long-term care homes, and retirement homes.

Appendix A provides more detail about laboratory-based influenza activity indicators, as well as other local indicators of respiratory illness. A graph showing all 432 laboratory-confirmed cases by week of illness onset is provided at the end of this report in Appendix B.

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