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Wednesday, February 06, 2019

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

Overall Assessment

Influenza continues to circulate in the Middlesex-London region, with cases being reported across London and Middlesex County.

Analysis and Action

The Middlesex-London region, and Ontario in general, are now several weeks into the influenza season. The Health Unit encourages local residents who have not yet received their seasonal influenza vaccine to do so as soon as possible, as it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to provide optimal protection against the flu.

Regardless of the level of local influenza activity, there are a number of easy-to-follow steps that residents can take 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

Between January 27th and February 2nd, there were 29 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza A reported to the Health Unit, 14 of whom were hospitalized. As well, the Health Unit was notified last week of the death of a case who had been reported previously.

Appendix A provides additional details about laboratory-based influenza activity indicators for the current reporting week, as well as other local indicators of respiratory illness. A graph showing all 147 laboratory-confirmed cases by week of illness onset is provided at the end of this report in Appendix B.

Provincial and National Comparison

In this week’s Ontario Respiratory Pathogen Bulletin, Public Health Ontario states that influenza activity across the province was lower when compared to what had been reported the previous week. Influenza A activity across Ontario is moderate, while influenza B activity remains low. Among the influenza A specimens that have been subtyped this season, 78.7% have been the A(H1N1)pdm09 strain.

This week’s FluWatch, from the Public Health Agency of Canada, reports that to date this season, the most common influenza virus identified is influenza A, with 93% of subtyped specimens being the A(H1N1)pdm09 strain. The majority
(86%) of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 cases have been among those under the age of 65 years, while 62% of all influenza A(H3N2) cases have been among those 65 years of age and over.

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