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Thursday, January 10, 2019

2018-2019 Community Influenza Sureveillance Report: Update of Current Status

First Report of 2019

This is the first Community Influenza Surveillance Report of 2019 and covers the three-week period that includes December 16th to 22nd, December 23rd to 29th, and December 30th, 2018 to January 5th, 2019.

Overall Assessment

Influenza activity in the Middlesex-London region is increasing, with cases reported from across the London and Middlesex region.

Analysis and Action

Ontario's influenza season is under way, with activity increasing across the province. The Health Unit encourages local residents who have not yet received their seasonal influenza vaccine to do so as soon as possible. It is important to get the flu shot before the arrival of peak influenza activity, as it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to provide optimal protection against the flu.

Regardless of the level of local influenza activity, residents can take a number of steps to avoid becoming sick throughout the year. While washing your hands with soap and warm water, or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, remain effective ways of preventing many illnesses, including influenza, local residents should also cover their coughs and sneezes, clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces frequently, and stay home when they feel sick.

Details of Current Local Activity

As this report covers three weeks of influenza surveillance, the details of local activity for each week are as follows:

  • Between December 16th and 22nd, there were nine (9) laboratory-confirmed influenza A cases reported to the Health Unit, six (6) of whom were hospitalized. No influenza outbreaks were reported.
  • Between December 23rd and 29th, there were eleven (11) laboratory-confirmed influenza A cases reported to the Health Unit, eight (8) of whom were hospitalized. No influenza outbreaks were reported.
  • Between December 30th, 2018 and January 5th, 2019, there were twenty-four (24) laboratory-confirmed influenza A cases reported to the Health Unit, seventeen (17) of whom were hospitalized. One (1) influenza A outbreak was declared.

Appendix A provides more detail about laboratory-based influenza activity indicators for the last three reporting weeks, as well as other local indicators of respiratory illness. A graph showing all 54 laboratory-confirmed cases by week of illness onset is provided at the end of this report in Appendix B.

Provincial and National Comparison

According to Public Health Ontario in this week’s Ontario Respiratory Pathogen Bulletin, influenza activity across the province is increasing. Influenza A activity across Ontario is moderate, while influenza B activity remains low. Both influenza A and influenza B have been detected in Ontario, although the majority of positive specimens have been influenza A. Among the influenza A specimens that have been subtyped this season, 76.5% have been the A(H1N1)pdm09 strain.

The Public Health Agency of Canada’s FluWatch reports that influenza activity continues to increase across the country. The most common influenza virus identified is influenza A, with the majority of subtyped specimens being the A(H1N1)pdm09 strain. To date this season, two-thirds (67.7%) of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 cases have been among those under the age of 45 years, while 62.8% of all influenza A(H3N2) cases have been among those 65 years of age and over.

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