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Wednesday, February 07, 2018

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

Overall Assessment

The level of influenza activity continues to be high in the Middlesex-London region.

Analysis and Action

The current influenza season is proving to be a severe one in both the Middlesex-London area and across Canada, with numerous laboratory-confirmed cases, hospitalizations, and institutional outbreaks reported. To date, the number and proportion of influenza B cases has been higher than expected, with influenza B identified in nearly two-thirds of reported cases and institutional outbreaks.

Quadrivalent inactivated influenza vaccine (QIV) is now available to, and recommended for, all unimmunized individuals in the Middlesex-London region, rather than the trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine (TIV). All unimmunized hospital, long-term care and retirement home staff in the Middlesex-London region are a high priority for immunization. Local residents who have not yet received their seasonal influenza immunization are encouraged to do so. 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 they feel sick, cover coughs and sneezes, and clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces frequently.

Details of Current Local Activity

Between January 28th and February 3rd, 28 laboratory confirmed cases of influenza A and 37 cases of influenza B were reported to the Health Unit. As well, there were 30 hospitalizations and four deaths reported. Please note that due to the retrospective nature of reporting, the week in which hospitalizations and deaths are reported to the Health Unit may not be the same as the week in which they occurred.

Since September 1st, 2017, there have been 172 laboratory-confirmed influenza A cases, 323 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 244 hospitalizations and 23 deaths. During this same time period, there have been 14 influenza A outbreaks, 23 influenza B outbreaks, and four outbreaks with both influenza A and B declared in hospitals, long-term care facilities, 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 497 laboratory-confirmed cases by week of illness onset is provided at the end of this report in Appendix B.

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