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The potential risks and impact of the start of the 2015-2016 influenza season in the WHO European Region: a rapid risk assessment

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  • Raïssa Tjon-Kon-Fat
  • Tamara Meerhoff
  • Sergejs Nikisins
  • Joao Pires
  • Dmitriy Pereyaslov
  • Diane Gross
  • Caroline Brown
  • Thea Kølsen Fischer (Member of study group)
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BACKGROUND: Countries in the World Health Organization (WHO) European Region are reporting more severe influenza activity in the 2015-2016 season compared to previous seasons.

OBJECTIVES: To conduct a rapid risk assessment to provide interim information on the severity of the current influenza season METHODS: Using the WHO manual for rapid risk assessment of acute public health events and surveillance data available from Flu News Europe, an assessment of the current influenza season from 28 September 2015 (week 40/2015) up to 31 January 2016 (week 04/2016) was made compared with the 4 previous seasons.

RESULTS: The current influenza season started around week 51/2015 with higher influenza activity reported in eastern Europe compared to Western Europe. There is a strong predominance of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 compared to previous seasons, but the virus is antigenically similar to the strain included in the seasonal influenza vaccine. Compared to the 2014/2015 season, there was a rapid increase in the number of severe cases in eastern European countries with the majority of such cases occurring among adults aged <65 years.

CONCLUSIONS: The current influenza season is characterised by an early start in eastern European countries, with indications of a more severe season. Currently circulating influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses are similar antigenically to those included in the seasonal influenza vaccine and the vaccine is expected to be effective. Authorities should provide information to the public and health providers about the current influenza season, recommendations for treatment of severe disease and effective public health measures to prevent influenza transmission. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInfluenza and other Respiratory Viruses
Volume10
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)236-246
ISSN1750-2640
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes

ID: 56804838