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1.  Timeliness of syndromic influenza surveillance through work and school absenteeism 
Archives of Public Health  2010;68(3):115-120.
In this paper, we investigate the usefulness of work and school absenteeism surveillance as an early warning system for influenza. In particular, time trends in daily absenteeism rates collected during the A(H1N1)2009 pandemic are compared with weekly incidence rates of influenza-like illness (ILI) obtained from the Belgian Sentinel General Practitioner (SGP) network. The results indicate a rise in absenteeism rates prior to the onset of the influenza epidemic, suggesting that absenteeism surveillance is a promising tool for early warning of influenza epidemics. To convincingly conclude on the usefulness of absenteeism data for early warning, additional data covering several influenza seasons is needed.
PMCID: PMC3463027
School absenteeism; worker absenteeism; influenza; influenza A virus; H1N1 subtype
2.  Surveillance and Vaccine Effectiveness of an Influenza Epidemic Predominated by Vaccine-Mismatched Influenza B/Yamagata-Lineage Viruses in Taiwan, 2011−12 Season 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58222.
The 2011−12 trivalent influenza vaccine contains a strain of influenza B/Victoria-lineage viruses. Despite free provision of influenza vaccine among target populations, an epidemic predominated by influenza B/Yamagata-lineage viruses occurred during the 2011−12 season in Taiwan. We characterized this vaccine-mismatched epidemic and estimated influenza vaccine effectiveness (VE).
Influenza activity was monitored through sentinel viral surveillance, emergency department (ED) and outpatient influenza-like illness (ILI) syndromic surveillance, and case-based surveillance of influenza with complications and deaths. VE against laboratory-confirmed influenza was evaluated through a case-control study on ILI patients enrolled into sentinel viral surveillance. Logistic regression was used to estimate VE adjusted for confounding factors.
During July 2011−June 2012, influenza B accounted for 2,382 (72.5%) of 3,285 influenza-positive respiratory specimens. Of 329 influenza B viral isolates with antigen characterization, 287 (87.2%) were B/Yamagata-lineage viruses. Proportions of ED and outpatient visits being ILI-related increased from November 2011 to January 2012. Of 1,704 confirmed cases of influenza with complications, including 154 (9.0%) deaths, influenza B accounted for 1,034 (60.7%) of the confirmed cases and 103 (66.9%) of the deaths. Reporting rates of confirmed influenza with complications and deaths were 73.5 and 6.6 per 1,000,000, respectively, highest among those aged ≥65 years, 50−64 years, 3−6 years, and 0−2 years. Adjusted VE was −31% (95% CI: −80, 4) against all influenza, 54% (95% CI: 3, 78) against influenza A, and −66% (95% CI: −132, −18) against influenza B.
This influenza epidemic in Taiwan was predominated by B/Yamagata-lineage viruses unprotected by the 2011−12 trivalent vaccine. The morbidity and mortality of this vaccine-mismatched epidemic warrants careful consideration of introducing a quadrivalent influenza vaccine that includes strains of both B lineages.
PMCID: PMC3589334  PMID: 23472161
3.  Teacher led school-based surveillance can allow accurate tracking of emerging infectious diseases - evidence from serial cross-sectional surveys of febrile respiratory illness during the H1N1 2009 influenza pandemic in Singapore 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2012;12:336.
Schools are important foci of influenza transmission and potential targets for surveillance and interventions. We compared several school-based influenza monitoring systems with clinic-based influenza-like illness (ILI) surveillance, and assessed the variation in illness rates between and within schools.
During the initial wave of pandemic H1N1 (pdmH1N1) infections from June to Sept 2009 in Singapore, we collected data on nation-wide laboratory confirmed cases (Sch-LCC) and daily temperature monitoring (Sch-DTM), and teacher-led febrile respiratory illness reporting in 6 sentinel schools (Sch-FRI). Comparisons were made against age-stratified clinic-based influenza-like illness (ILI) data from 23 primary care clinics (GP-ILI) and proportions of ILI testing positive for pdmH1N1 (Lab-ILI) by computing the fraction of cumulative incidence occurring by epidemiological week 30 (when GP-ILI incidence peaked); and cumulative incidence rates between school-based indicators and sero-epidemiological pdmH1N1 incidence (estimated from changes in prevalence of A/California/7/2009 H1N1 hemagglutination inhibition titers ≥ 40 between pre-epidemic and post-epidemic sera). Variation in Sch-FRI rates in the 6 schools was also investigated through a Bayesian hierarchical model.
By week 30, for primary and secondary school children respectively, 63% and 79% of incidence for Sch-LCC had occurred, compared with 50% and 52% for GP-ILI data, and 48% and 53% for Sch-FRI. There were 1,187 notified cases and 7,588 episodes in the Sch-LCC and Sch-DTM systems; given school enrollment of 485,723 children, this represented 0.24 cases and 1.6 episodes per 100 children respectively. Mean Sch-FRI rate was 28.8 per 100 children (95% CI: 27.7 to 29.9) in the 6 schools. We estimate from serology that 41.8% (95% CI: 30.2% to 55.9%) of primary and 43.2% (95% CI: 28.2% to 60.8%) of secondary school-aged children were infected. Sch-FRI rates were similar across the 6 schools (23 to 34 episodes per 100 children), but there was widespread variation by classrooms; in the hierarchical model, omitting age and school effects was inconsequential but neglecting classroom level effects led to highly significant reductions in goodness of fit.
Epidemic curves from Sch-FRI were comparable to GP-ILI data, and Sch-FRI detected substantially more infections than Sch-LCC and Sch-DTM. Variability in classroom attack rates suggests localized class-room transmission.
PMCID: PMC3544582  PMID: 23206689
Respiratory tract infections; Vaccination; Serology
4.  Using surveillance data to estimate pandemic vaccine effectiveness against laboratory confirmed influenza A(H1N1)2009 infection: two case-control studies, Spain, season 2009-2010 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:899.
Physicians of the Spanish Influenza Sentinel Surveillance System report and systematically swab patients attended to their practices for influenza-like illness (ILI). Within the surveillance system, some Spanish regions also participated in an observational study aiming at estimating influenza vaccine effectiveness (cycEVA study). During the season 2009-2010, we estimated pandemic influenza vaccine effectiveness using both the influenza surveillance data and the cycEVA study.
We conducted two case-control studies using the test-negative design, between weeks 48/2009 and 8/2010 of the pandemic season. The surveillance-based study included all swabbed patients in the sentinel surveillance system. The cycEVA study included swabbed patients from seven Spanish regions. Cases were laboratory-confirmed pandemic influenza A(H1N1)2009. Controls were ILI patients testing negative for any type of influenza. Variables collected in both studies included demographic data, vaccination status, laboratory results, chronic conditions, and pregnancy. Additionally, cycEVA questionnaire collected data on previous influenza vaccination, smoking, functional status, hospitalisations, visits to the general practitioners, and obesity. We used logistic regression to calculate adjusted odds ratios (OR), computing pandemic influenza vaccine effectiveness as (1-OR)*100.
We included 331 cases and 995 controls in the surveillance-based study and 85 cases and 351 controls in the cycEVA study. We detected nine (2.7%) and two (2.4%) vaccine failures in the surveillance-based and cycEVA studies, respectively. Adjusting for variables collected in surveillance database and swabbing month, pandemic influenza vaccine effectiveness was 62% (95% confidence interval (CI): -5; 87). The cycEVA vaccine effectiveness was 64% (95%CI: -225; 96) when adjusting for common variables with the surveillance system and 75% (95%CI: -293; 98) adjusting for all variables collected.
Point estimates of the pandemic influenza vaccine effectiveness suggested a protective effect of the pandemic vaccine against laboratory-confirmed influenza A(H1N1)2009 in the season 2009-2010. Both studies were limited by the low vaccine coverage and the late start of the vaccination campaign. Routine influenza surveillance provides reliable estimates and could be used for influenza vaccine effectiveness studies in future seasons taken into account the surveillance system limitations.
PMCID: PMC3262832  PMID: 22129083
5.  Effectiveness of influenza vaccine against laboratory-confirmed influenza, in the late 2011–2012 season in Spain, among population targeted for vaccination 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2013;13:441.
In Spain, the influenza vaccine effectiveness (VE) was estimated in the last three seasons using the observational study cycEVA conducted in the frame of the existing Spanish Influenza Sentinel Surveillance System. The objective of the study was to estimate influenza vaccine effectiveness (VE) against medically attended, laboratory-confirmed influenza-like illness (ILI) among the target groups for vaccination in Spain in the 2011–2012 season. We also studied influenza VE in the early (weeks 52/2011-7/2012) and late (weeks 8-14/2012) phases of the epidemic and according to time since vaccination.
Medically attended patients with ILI were systematically swabbed to collect information on exposure, laboratory outcome and confounding factors. Patients belonging to target groups for vaccination and who were swabbed <8 days after symptom onset were included. Cases tested positive for influenza and controls tested negative for any influenza virus. To examine the effect of a late season, analyses were performed according to the phase of the season and according to the time between vaccination and symptoms onset.
The overall adjusted influenza VE against A(H3N2) was 45% (95% CI, 0–69). The estimated influenza VE was 52% (95% CI, -3 to 78), 40% (95% CI, -40 to 74) and 22% (95% CI, -135 to 74) at 3.5 months, 3.5-4 months, and >4 months, respectively, since vaccination. A decrease in VE with time since vaccination was only observed in individuals aged ≥ 65 years. Regarding the phase of the season, decreasing point estimates were only observed in the early phase, whereas very low or null estimates were obtained in the late phase for the shortest time interval.
The 2011–2012 influenza vaccine showed a low-to-moderate protective effect against medically attended, laboratory-confirmed influenza in the target groups for vaccination, in a late season and with a limited match between the vaccine and circulating strains. The suggested decrease in influenza VE with time since vaccination was mostly observed in the elderly population. The decreasing protective effect of the vaccine in the late part of the season could be related to waning vaccine protection because no viral changes were identified throughout the season.
PMCID: PMC3848794  PMID: 24053661
Influenza; Vaccine effectiveness; Case–control studies; Sentinel networks; Discordant strain; Waning immunity
6.  Guam's Influenza Epidemic(s) of 2009 
Hawaii Medical Journal  2010;69(6 Suppl 3):50-51.
To characterize syndromic and laboratory surveillance for influenza on Guam during 2009, including the relation of cases to the timing of swine flu-related stories published in a local newspaper.
Data utilized in the study included clinical diagnoses of acute respiratory infection (ARI) in the Emergency Department log of Guam's only civilian hospital (syndromic surveillance) and laboratory confirmed cases of Influenza A (rapid test) and novel 2009 H1N1 influenza virus (RT-PCR subtyping) from both civilian and military sources. In addition, the number of “swine flu” stories appearing weekly in a local paper were tallied.
What initially appeared to be an epidemic occurring in 2 distinct waves was shown to be separate epidemics of “seasonal flu” and “swine flu.” There was a strong correlation between the timing of “swine flu”stories appearing in local media and the diagnosis of ARI.
Syndromic surveillance is useful for the early detection of disease outbreaks but laboratory results may be necessary in order to gain a clear epidemiologic picture of a disease incident.
PMCID: PMC3123141  PMID: 20540003
7.  Epidemiology of the 2012 influenza season in Victoria, Australia 
To assess the magnitude and severity of the 2012 influenza season in Victoria, Australia using surveillance data from five sources.
Data from influenza notifications, sentinel general practices, a sentinel hospital network, a sentinel locum service and strain typing databases for 2012 were descriptively analysed.
Influenza and influenza-like illness activity was moderate compared to previous years, although a considerable increase in notified laboratory-confirmed influenza was observed. Type A influenza comprised between 83% and 87% of cases from the general practitioners, hospitals and notifiable surveillance data. Influenza A/H3 was dominant in July and August, and most tested isolates were antigenically similar to the A/Perth/16/2009 virus used in the vaccine. There was a smaller peak of influenza type B in September. No tested viruses were resistant to any neuraminidase inhibitor antivirals. Higher proportions of type A/H3, hospitalized cases and those with a comorbid condition indicated for influenza vaccination were aged 65 years or older. Influenza vaccination coverage among influenza-like illness patients was 24% in sentinel general practices and 50% in hospitals.
The 2012 influenza season in Victoria was average compared to previous years, with an increased dominance of A/H3 accompanied by increases in older and hospitalized cases. Differences in magnitude and the epidemiological profile of cases detected by the different data sources demonstrate the importance of using a range of surveillance data to assess the relative severity of influenza seasons.
PMCID: PMC3854100  PMID: 24319614
8.  Case-based reported mortality associated with laboratory-confirmed influenza A(H1N1) 2009 virus infection in the Netherlands: the 2009-2010 pandemic season versus the 2010-2011 influenza season 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:758.
In contrast to seasonal influenza epidemics, where the majority of deaths occur amongst elderly, a considerable part of the 2009 pandemic influenza related deaths concerned relatively young people. In the Netherlands, all deaths associated with laboratory-confirmed influenza A(H1N1) 2009 virus infection had to be notified, both during the 2009-2010 pandemic season and the 2010-2011 influenza season. To assess whether and to what extent pandemic mortality patterns were reverting back to seasonal patterns, a retrospective analyses of all notified fatal cases associated with laboratory-confirmed influenza A(H1N1) 2009 virus infection was performed.
The notification database, including detailed information about the clinical characteristics of all notified deaths, was used to perform a comprehensive analysis of all deceased patients with a laboratory-confirmed influenza A(H1N1) 2009 virus infection. Characteristics of the fatalities with respect to age and underlying medical conditions were analysed, comparing the 2009-2010 pandemic and the 2010-2011 influenza season.
A total of 65 fatalities with a laboratory-confirmed influenza A(H1N1) 2009 virus infection were notified in 2009-2010 and 38 in 2010-2011. During the pandemic season, the population mortality rates peaked in persons aged 0-15 and 55-64 years. In the 2010-2011 influenza season, peaks in mortality were seen in persons aged 0-15 and 75-84 years. During the 2010-2011 influenza season, the height of first peak was lower compared to that during the pandemic season. Underlying immunological disorders were more common in the pandemic season compared to the 2010-2011 season (p = 0.02), and cardiovascular disorders were more common in the 2010-2011 season (p = 0.005).
The mortality pattern in the 2010-2011 influenza season still resembled the 2009-2010 pandemic season with a peak in relatively young age groups, but concurrently a clear shift toward seasonal patterns was seen, with a peak in mortality in the elderly, i.e. ≥ 75 years of age.
PMCID: PMC3198709  PMID: 21970457
9.  Fatal cases associated with pandemic influenza A (H1N1) reported in Greece. 
PLoS Currents  2010;2:RRN1194.
Between 18 May 2009 and 3 May 2010, a total of 149 fatal cases associated with pandemic influenza A (H1N1) were reported in Greece. Detailed case-based epidemiological information was available for the large majority of fatal cases. The time distribution follows an epidemic curve with a peak in the beginning of December 2009 and a second peak one month later. This is similar to that of laboratory confirmed cases and influenza-like illness cases from our sentinel surveillance system, with two weeks delay. The most commonly reported underlying conditions were chronic cardiovascular disease and immunosuppression, while the most frequently identified risk factor was obesity. These findings should be taken into consideration, when vaccination strategies are employed.
PMCID: PMC2976846  PMID: 21085493
10.  Forecasting Influenza Epidemics from Multi-Stream Surveillance Data in a Subtropical City of China 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92945.
Influenza has been associated with heavy burden of mortality and morbidity in subtropical regions. However, timely forecast of influenza epidemic in these regions has been hindered by unclear seasonality of influenza viruses. In this study, we developed a forecasting model by integrating multiple sentinel surveillance data to predict influenza epidemics in a subtropical city Shenzhen, China.
Dynamic linear models with the predictors of single or multiple surveillance data for influenza-like illness (ILI) were adopted to forecast influenza epidemics from 2006 to 2012 in Shenzhen. Temporal coherence of these surveillance data with laboratory-confirmed influenza cases was evaluated by wavelet analysis and only the coherent data streams were entered into the model. Timeliness, sensitivity and specificity of these models were also evaluated to compare their performance.
Both influenza virology data and ILI consultation rates in Shenzhen demonstrated a significant annual seasonal cycle (p<0.05) during the entire study period, with occasional deviations observed in some data streams. The forecasting models that combined multi-stream ILI surveillance data generally outperformed the models with single-stream ILI data, by providing more timely, sensitive and specific alerts.
Forecasting models that combine multiple sentinel surveillance data can be considered to generate timely alerts for influenza epidemics in subtropical regions like Shenzhen.
PMCID: PMC3968046  PMID: 24676091
11.  The Spread of Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 Virus in Madagascar Described by a Sentinel Surveillance Network 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37067.
The influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus has been a challenge for public health surveillance systems in all countries. In Antananarivo, the first imported case was reported on August 12, 2009. This work describes the spread of A(H1N1)pdm09 in Madagascar.
The diffusion of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 in Madagascar was explored using notification data from a sentinel network. Clinical data were charted to identify peaks at each sentinel site and virological data was used to confirm viral circulation.
From August 1, 2009 to February 28, 2010, 7,427 patients with influenza-like illness were reported. Most patients were aged 7 to 14 years. Laboratory tests confirmed infection with A(H1N1)pdm09 in 237 (33.2%) of 750 specimens. The incidence of patients differed between regions. By determining the epidemic peaks we traced the diffusion of the epidemic through locations and time in Madagascar. The first peak was detected during the epidemiological week 47-2009 in Antananarivo and the last one occurred in week 07-2010 in Tsiroanomandidy.
Sentinel surveillance data can be used for describing epidemic trends, facilitating the development of interventions at the local level to mitigate disease spread and impact.
PMCID: PMC3353907  PMID: 22615893
12.  Increased emergency department chief complaints of fever identified the influenza (H1N1) pandemic before outpatient symptom surveillance 
To determine whether a sentinel clinic network or an emergency department (ED) was more timely in identifying the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) pandemic.
All reasons for presenting to the adult regional medical ED were coded online by admission secretaries, without the aid of medical personnel. Increased influenza activity defined by weekly chief complaints of fever was compared with activity defined by the Israel Center for Disease Control (viral surveillance as well as a large sentinel clinic network).
Influenza activity during the pandemic increased in the ED 2 weeks before outpatient sentinel clinics. During the pandemic, maximal ED activity was much higher than in previous seasons. Maximal activity during the past 5 years correlated with the timeliness of the chief complaint of fever in identifying the onset of epidemics.
Chief complaint of fever in the ED can be a sensitive marker of increased influenza activity and might replace the use of sentinel clinics.
PMCID: PMC3258318  PMID: 21448581
Emergency department; Fever; Clusters; Influenza; Epidemics
13.  Population-based Surveillance for Bacterial Meningitis in China, September 2006–December 2009 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2014;20(1):61-69.
Greater use of appropriate specimen collection and confirmatory laboratory testing is needed.
During September 2006–December 2009, we conducted active population and sentinel laboratory–based surveillance for bacterial meningitis pathogens, including Streptococcus pneumoniae, Neisseria meningitidis, and Haemophilus influenzae type b, in 4 China prefectures. We identified 7,876 acute meningitis and encephalitis syndrome cases, including 6,388 among prefecture residents. A total of 833 resident cases from sentinel hospitals met the World Health Organization case definition for probable bacterial meningitis; 339 of these cases were among children <5 years of age. Laboratory testing confirmed bacterial meningitis in 74 of 3,391 tested cases. The estimated annual incidence (per 100,000 population) of probable bacterial meningitis ranged from 1.84 to 2.93 for the entire population and from 6.95 to 22.30 for children <5 years old. Active surveillance with laboratory confirmation has provided a population-based estimate of the number of probable bacterial meningitis cases in China, but more complete laboratory testing is needed to better define the epidemiology of the disease in this country.
PMCID: PMC3884703  PMID: 24377388
bacterial meningitis; meningitis; pneumococcal; Neisseria meningitidis; Streptococcus pneumoniae; Haemophilus influenzae type b; bacteria; China; population-based surveillance
14.  Effect of the H1N1 Influenza Pandemic on the Incidence of Epidemic Keratoconjunctivitis and on Hygiene Behavior: A Cross-Sectional Study 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e23444.
EKC is transmitted chiefly by direct hand contact. It is suspected that the 2009/2010 influenza pandemic influenced hand washing. This study aims to examine the relationship between the 2009/2010 H1N1 influenza pandemic and hygiene behavior.
We compared the EKC prevalence trends before, during and after the 2009/2010 influenza pandemic by using a t-test comparison of EKC sentinel surveillance.
During the pre-pandemic period, the incidence of EKC increased from the 21st to the 44th week each year. However, during the pandemic period in 2009, there was no epidemic peak. In the post-pandemic period, the epidemic curve was similar to that in the pre-pandemic period. Compared to the pre-pandemic period, the total number of EKC patients during the pandemic period showed a decrease of 44.9% (t value = −7.23, p = 0.002). Comparing the pre-pandemic and pandemic periods by age group, we found there to be a significant decrease in the number of EKC patients for all age groups (−4.12≤t value≤−7.23, all P<0.05). This finding was most evident in the teenage group (62%) compared to the other age groups (decreases of 29 to 44%).
A continuing effort should be made to educate the public on basic infection prevention behaviors in the aftermath of the pandemic, particularly to teenagers.
PMCID: PMC3156808  PMID: 21858118
15.  Estimates of Pandemic Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness in Europe, 2009–2010: Results of Influenza Monitoring Vaccine Effectiveness in Europe (I-MOVE) Multicentre Case-Control Study 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(1):e1000388.
Results from a European multicentre case-control study reported by Marta Valenciano and colleagues suggest good protection by the pandemic monovalent H1N1 vaccine against pH1N1 and no effect of the 2009–2010 seasonal influenza vaccine on H1N1.
A multicentre case-control study based on sentinel practitioner surveillance networks from seven European countries was undertaken to estimate the effectiveness of 2009–2010 pandemic and seasonal influenza vaccines against medically attended influenza-like illness (ILI) laboratory-confirmed as pandemic influenza A (H1N1) (pH1N1).
Methods and Findings
Sentinel practitioners swabbed ILI patients using systematic sampling. We included in the study patients meeting the European ILI case definition with onset of symptoms >14 days after the start of national pandemic vaccination campaigns. We compared pH1N1 cases to influenza laboratory-negative controls. A valid vaccination corresponded to >14 days between receiving a dose of vaccine and symptom onset. We estimated pooled vaccine effectiveness (VE) as 1 minus the odds ratio with the study site as a fixed effect. Using logistic regression, we adjusted VE for potential confounding factors (age group, sex, month of onset, chronic diseases and related hospitalizations, smoking history, seasonal influenza vaccinations, practitioner visits in previous year). We conducted a complete case analysis excluding individuals with missing values and a multiple multivariate imputation to estimate missing values. The multivariate imputation (n = 2902) adjusted pandemic VE (PIVE) estimates were 71.9% (95% confidence interval [CI] 45.6–85.5) overall; 78.4% (95% CI 54.4–89.8) in patients <65 years; and 72.9% (95% CI 39.8–87.8) in individuals without chronic disease. The complete case (n = 1,502) adjusted PIVE were 66.0% (95% CI 23.9–84.8), 71.3% (95% CI 29.1–88.4), and 70.2% (95% CI 19.4–89.0), respectively. The adjusted PIVE was 66.0% (95% CI −69.9 to 93.2) if vaccinated 8–14 days before ILI onset. The adjusted 2009–2010 seasonal influenza VE was 9.9% (95% CI −65.2 to 50.9).
Our results suggest good protection of the pandemic monovalent vaccine against medically attended pH1N1 and no effect of the 2009–2010 seasonal influenza vaccine. However, the late availability of the pandemic vaccine and subsequent limited coverage with this vaccine hampered our ability to study vaccine benefits during the outbreak period. Future studies should include estimation of the effectiveness of the new trivalent vaccine in the upcoming 2010–2011 season, when vaccination will occur before the influenza season starts.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Following the World Health Organization's declaration of pandemic phase six in June 2009, manufacturers developed vaccines against pandemic influenza A 2009 (pH1N1). On the basis of the scientific opinion of the European Medicines Agency, the European Commission initially granted marketing authorization to three pandemic vaccines for use in European countries. During the autumn of 2009, most European countries included the 2009–2010 seasonal influenza vaccine and the pandemic vaccine in their influenza vaccination programs.
The Influenza Monitoring Vaccine Effectiveness in Europe network (established to monitor seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccine effectiveness) conducted seven case-control and three cohort studies in seven European countries in 2009–2010 to estimate the effectiveness of the pandemic and seasonal vaccines. Data from the seven pilot case-control studies were pooled to provide overall adjusted estimates of vaccine effectiveness.
Why Was This Study Done?
After seasonal and pandemic vaccines are made available to populations, it is necessary to estimate the effectiveness of the vaccines at the population level during every influenza season. Therefore, this study was conducted in European countries to estimate the pandemic influenza vaccine effectiveness and seasonal influenza vaccine effectiveness against people presenting to their doctor with influenza-like illness who were confirmed (by laboratory tests) to be infected with pH1N1.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers conducted a multicenter case-control study on the basis of practitioner surveillance networks from seven countries—France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Romania, Portugal, and Spain. Patients consulting a participating practitioner for influenza-like illness had a nasal or throat swab taken within 8 days of symptom onset. Cases were swabbed patients who tested positive for pH1N1. Patients presenting with influenza-like illness whose swab tested negative for any influenza virus were controls.
Individuals were considered vaccinated if they had received a dose of the vaccine more than 14 days before the date of onset of influenza-like illness and unvaccinated if they were not vaccinated at all, or if the vaccine was given less than 15 days before the onset of symptoms. The researchers analyzed pandemic influenza vaccination effectiveness in those vaccinated less than 8 days, those vaccinated between and including 8 and 14 days, and those vaccinated more than 14 days before onset of symptoms compared to those who had never been vaccinated.
The researchers used modeling (taking account of all potential confounding factors) to estimate adjusted vaccine effectiveness and stratified the adjusted pandemic influenza vaccine effectiveness and the adjusted seasonal influenza vaccine effectiveness in three age groups (<15, 15–64, and ≥65 years of age).
The adjusted results suggest that the 2009–2010 seasonal influenza vaccine did not protect against pH1N1 illness. However, one dose of the pandemic vaccines used in the participating countries conferred good protection (65.5%–100% according to various stratifications performed) against pH1N1 in people who attended their practitioner with influenza-like illness, especially in people aged <65 years and in those without any chronic disease. Furthermore, good pandemic influenza vaccine effectiveness was observed as early as 8 days after vaccination.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The results of this study provide early estimates of the pandemic influenza vaccine effectiveness suggesting that the monovalent pandemic vaccines have been effective. The findings also give an indication of the vaccine effectiveness for the Influenza A (H1N1) 2009 strain included in the 2010–2011 seasonal vaccines, although specific vaccine effectiveness studies will have to be conducted to verify if similar good effectiveness are observed with 2010–2011 trivalent vaccines. However, the results of this study should be interpreted with caution because of limitations in the pandemic context (late timing of the studies, low incidence, low vaccine coverage leading to imprecise estimates) and potential biases due the study design, confounding factors, and missing values. The researchers recommend that in future season studies, the sample size per country should be enlarged in order to allow for precise pooled and stratified analyses.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The World Health Organization has information on H1N1 vaccination
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides a fact sheet on the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus
The US Department of Health and Human services has a comprehensive website on flu
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control provides information on 2009 H1N1 pandemic
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control presents a summary of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic in Europe and elsewhere
PMCID: PMC3019108  PMID: 21379316
16.  Epidemiologic parameters and evaluation of control measure for 2009 novel influenza a (H1N1) in Xiamen, Fujian Province, China 
Virology Journal  2012;9:20.
Containment of influenza A H1N1 virus spread was implemented successfully in Xiamen, with large-scale inoculation to reduce morbidity. To identify beneficial elements and to guide decision-making in epidemic containment, we analyzed the epidemiologic parameters and evaluated the control measures.
We determined various parameters from laboratory-confirmed cases, including incubation period, duration of illness and reproductive number (R0), and evaluated the control measures.
There were1414 cases with dates of onset between June 14, 2009 and March 22, 2010. The incidence was 56.79/100,000, and mortality was 0.12/100,000. The incidence during the community epidemic phase was 6.23 times higher than in the containment phase. A total of 296,888 subjects were inoculated with domestic influenza H1N1 virus cleavage vaccine. An epidemic curve showed that vaccination in students cut the peak incidence of illness significantly. Men (relative risk (RR) = 1.30, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.17-1.45) and persons aged 0-14 years were at greater risk of infection. The incidence increased with younger age (χ2 = 950.675, p = ∞). Morbidity was lower in urban than in rural areas (RR = 0.56, 95%CI: 0.50-0.62). The median incubation time was 2 days, median duration of symptoms was 7 days, and the within-school reproductive number was 1.35.
Our analysis indicated that the characteristics of this novel influenza virus were similar to those of seasonal influenza. The principle of "interception of imported cases" applied at Xiamen ports, and vaccination of students effectively limited the spread of the influenza pandemic and reduced the epidemic peak.
PMCID: PMC3284392  PMID: 22248240
Novel influenza A (H1N1); Epidemiologic Parameter; Control Measure; Evaluation
17.  Introduction of a Novel Swine-Origin Influenza A (H1N1) Virus into Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 2009 
Viruses  2009;1(1):72-83.
On 17 April 2009, novel swine origin influenza A virus (S-OIV) cases appeared within the United States. Most influenza A diagnostic assays currently utilized in local clinical laboratories do not allow definitive subtype determination. Detailed subtype analysis of influenza A positive samples in our laboratory allowed early confirmation of a large outbreak of S-OIV in southeastern Wisconsin (SEW). The initial case of S-OIV in SEW was detected on 28 April 2009. All influenza A samples obtained during the 16 week period prior to 28 April 2009, and the first four weeks of the subsequent epidemic were sub typed. Four different multiplex assays were employed, utilizing real time PCR and end point PCR to fully subtype human and animal influenza viral components. Specific detection of S-OIV was developed within days. Data regarding patient demographics and other concurrently circulating viruses were analyzed. During the first four weeks of the epidemic, 679 of 3726 (18.2%) adults and children tested for influenza A were identified with S-OIV infection. Thirteen patients (0.34%) tested positive for seasonal human subtypes of influenza A during the first two weeks and none in the subsequent 2 weeks of the epidemic. Parainfluenza viruses were the most prevalent seasonal viral agents circulating during the epidemic (of those tested), with detection rates of 12% followed by influenza B and RSV at 1.9% and 0.9% respectively. S-OIV was confirmed on day 2 of instituting subtype testing and within 4 days of report of national cases of S-OIV. Novel surge capacity diagnostic infrastructure exists in many specialty and research laboratories around the world. The capacity for broader influenza A sub typing at the local laboratory level allows timely and accurate detection of novel strains as they emerge in the community, despite the presence of other circulating viruses producing identical illness. This is likely to become increasingly important given the need for appropriate subtype driven anti-viral therapy and the potential shortage of such medications in a large epidemic.
PMCID: PMC2768288  PMID: 19865496
S-OIV; novel influenza; outbreak; sub-typing; parainfluenza; respiratory viruses
18.  Introduction of a Novel Swine-Origin Influenza A (H1N1) Virus into Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 2009 
Viruses  2009;1(1):72-83.
On 17 April 2009, novel swine origin influenza A virus (S-OIV) cases appeared within the United States. Most influenza A diagnostic assays currently utilized in local clinical laboratories do not allow definitive subtype determination. Detailed subtype analysis of influenza A positive samples in our laboratory allowed early confirmation of a large outbreak of S-OIV in southeastern Wisconsin (SEW). The initial case of S-OIV in SEW was detected on 28 April 2009. All influenza A samples obtained during the 16 week period prior to 28 April 2009, and the first four weeks of the subsequent epidemic were sub typed. Four different multiplex assays were employed, utilizing real time PCR and end point PCR to fully subtype human and animal influenza viral components. Specific detection of S-OIV was developed within days. Data regarding patient demographics and other concurrently circulating viruses were analyzed. During the first four weeks of the epidemic, 679 of 3726 (18.2%) adults and children tested for influenza A were identified with S-OIV infection. Thirteen patients (0.34%) tested positive for seasonal human subtypes of influenza A during the first two weeks and none in the subsequent 2 weeks of the epidemic. Parainfluenza viruses were the most prevalent seasonal viral agents circulating during the epidemic (of those tested), with detection rates of 12% followed by influenza B and RSV at 1.9% and 0.9% respectively. S-OIV was confirmed on day 2 of instituting subtype testing and within 4 days of report of national cases of S-OIV. Novel surge capacity diagnostic infrastructure exists in many specialty and research laboratories around the world. The capacity for broader influenza A sub typing at the local laboratory level allows timely and accurate detection of novel strains as they emerge in the community, despite the presence of other circulating viruses producing identical illness. This is likely to become increasingly important given the need for appropriate subtype driven anti-viral therapy and the potential shortage of such medications in a large epidemic.
PMCID: PMC2768288  PMID: 19865496
S-OIV; novel influenza; outbreak; sub-typing; parainfluenza; respiratory viruses
19.  Age-specific Differences in Influenza A Epidemic Curves: Do Children Drive the Spread of Influenza Epidemics? 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2011;174(1):109-117.
There is accumulating evidence suggesting that children may drive the spread of influenza epidemics. The objective of this study was to quantify the lead time by age using laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza A for the 1995/1996–2005/2006 seasons from Canadian communities and laboratory-confirmed hospital admissions for the H1N1/2009 pandemic strain. With alignment of the epidemic curves locally before aggregation of cases, slight age-specific differences in the timing of infection became apparent. For seasonal influenza, both the 10–19- and 20–29-year age groups peaked 1 week earlier than other age groups, while during the fall wave of the 2009 pandemic, infections peaked earlier among only the 10–19-year age group. In the H3N2 seasons, infections occurred an average of 3.9 (95% confidence interval: 1.7, 6.1) days earlier in the 20–29-year age group than for youth aged 10–19 years, while during the fall pandemic wave, the 10–19-year age group had a statistically significant lead of 3 days compared with both younger children aged 4–9 years and adults aged 20–29 years (P < 0.0001). This analysis casts doubt on the hypothesis that younger school-age children actually lead influenza epidemic waves.
PMCID: PMC3119537  PMID: 21602300
age groups; data interpretation, statistical; diagnostic techniques and procedures; disease transmission, infectious; empirical research; influenza, human; population surveillance
20.  The Geographic Synchrony of Seasonal Influenza: A Waves across Canada and the United States 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e21471.
As observed during the 2009 pandemic, a novel influenza virus can spread globally before the epidemic peaks locally. As consistencies in the relative timing and direction of spread could form the basis for an early alert system, the objectives of this study were to use the case-based reporting system for laboratory confirmed influenza from the Canadian FluWatch surveillance program to identify the geographic scale at which spatial synchrony exists and then to describe the geographic patterns of influenza A virus across Canada and in relationship to activity in the United States (US).
Methodology/Principal Findings
Weekly laboratory confirmations for influenza A were obtained from the Canadian FluWatch and the US FluView surveillance programs from 1997/98 to 2006/07. For the six seasons where at least 80% of the specimens were antigenically similar, we identified the epidemic midpoint of the local/regional/provincial epidemics and analyzed trends in the direction of spread. In three out of the six seasons, the epidemic appeared first in Canada. Regional epidemics were more closely synchronized across the US (3–5 weeks) compared to Canada (5–13 weeks), with a slight gradient in timing from the southwest regions in the US to northeast regions of Canada and the US. Cities, as well as rural areas within provinces, usually peaked within a couple of weeks of each other. The anticipated delay in peak activity between large cities and rural areas was not observed. In some mixed influenza A seasons, lack of synchronization sub-provincially was evident.
As mixing between regions appears to be too weak to force a consistency in the direction and timing of spread, local laboratory-based surveillance is needed to accurately assess the level of influenza activity in the community. In comparison, mixing between urban communities and adjacent rural areas, and between some communities, may be sufficient to force synchronization.
PMCID: PMC3125188  PMID: 21738676
21.  Eight Years of the Great Influenza Survey to Monitor Influenza-Like Illness in Flanders 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64156.
In 2003, an internet-based monitoring system of influenza-like illness (ILI), the Great Influenza Survey (GIS), was initiated in Belgium. For the Flemish part of Belgium, we investigate the representativeness of the GIS population and assess the validity of the survey in terms of ILI incidence during eight influenza seasons (from 2003 through 2011). The validity is investigated by comparing estimated ILI incidences from the GIS with recorded incidences from two other monitoring systems, (i) the Belgian Sentinel Network and (ii) the Google Flu Trends, and by performing a risk factor analysis to investigate whether the risks on acquiring ILI in the GIS population are comparable with results in the literature. A random walk model of first order is used to estimate ILI incidence trends based on the GIS. Good to excellent correspondence is observed between the estimated ILI trends in the GIS and the recorded trends in the Sentinel Network and the Google Flu Trends. The results of the risk factor analysis are in line with the literature. In conclusion, the GIS is a useful additional surveillance network for ILI monitoring in Flanders. The advantages are the speed at which information is available and the fact that data is gathered directly in the community at an individual level.
PMCID: PMC3656949  PMID: 23691162
22.  Predicting AH1N1 2009 influenza epidemic in Southeast Europe 
Croatian Medical Journal  2011;52(2):115-125.
To use the data on the AH1N1 2009 influenza epidemic in the Southern hemisphere countries to predict the course and size of the upcoming influenza epidemic in South-Eastern Europe (SEE) countries and other regions of the World with temperate climate.
We used a comparative epidemiological method to evaluate accessible electronic data on laboratory-confirmed deaths from AH1N1 2009 influenza in the seasons 2009/2010 and 2010/2011. The studied SEE countries were Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia, while Southern hemisphere countries were Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, Paraguay, Uruguay, and South Africa.
In influenza season 2009/2010, Southern hemisphere countries with temperate climate reported 1187 laboratory-confirmed influenza AH1N1 2009 deaths (mortality rate 0.84/100 000; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.50-1.24). SEE countries with similar climatic conditions reported 659 deaths and similar mortality rates (0.86/100 000, 95% CI, 0.83-1.10). In the whole Europe without the Commonwealth of Independent States countries (CIS, former Soviet Union), there were 3213 deaths (0.60/100 000; 95% CI, 0.65-0.93). In 2010/2011, Southern hemisphere countries reported 94 laboratory-confirmed deaths (mortality rate 0.07/100 000; 95% CI, 0.02-0.28) or only 7.9% of the previous season. SEE countries by the end of the 11th epidemiological week of 2010/2011 season reported 489 laboratory-confirmed deaths, with a mortality rate of 0.64/100 000 (95% CI, 0.26-0.96) or 74.2% of the previous season, which was significantly higher than in the Southern hemisphere countries (χ21 = 609.1, P < 0.001). In Europe without CIS countries, there were 1836 deaths, with a mortality rate of 0.34/100 000 (χ2 = 153.3, P < 0.001 vs SEE countries).
In the 2009/2010 season, SEE countries and Southern hemisphere countries had similar influenza AH1N1 2009 mortality rates. In the 2010/2011 season, the forecast of 10% increase in total mortality in SEE countries and Europe compared with the 2009/2010 season was significantly exceeded, while the expected impact of type-specific vaccines against influenza AH1N1 2009 was not achieved. Consumption of epidemic potential has greater importance for the prognosis of the course and size of influenza epidemic than the degree of vaccine immunity.
PMCID: PMC3081209  PMID: 21495193
23.  Monitoring the emergence of community transmission of influenza A/H1N1 2009 in England: a cross sectional opportunistic survey of self sampled telephone callers to NHS Direct 
Objective To evaluate ascertainment of the onset of community transmission of influenza A/H1N1 2009 (swine flu) in England during the earliest phase of the epidemic through comparing data from two surveillance systems.
Design Cross sectional opportunistic survey.
Study samples Results from self samples by consenting patients who had called the NHS Direct telephone health line with cold or flu symptoms, or both, and results from Health Protection Agency (HPA) regional microbiology laboratories on patients tested according to the clinical algorithm for the management of suspected cases of swine flu.
Setting Six regions of England between 24 May and 30 June 2009.
Main outcome measure Proportion of specimens with laboratory evidence of influenza A/H1N1 2009.
Results Influenza A/H1N1 2009 infections were detected in 91 (7%) of the 1385 self sampled specimens tested. In addition, eight instances of influenza A/H3 infection and two cases of influenza B infection were detected. The weekly rate of change in the proportions of infected individuals according to self obtained samples closely matched the rate of increase in the proportions of infected people reported by HPA regional laboratories. Comparing the data from both systems showed that local community transmission was occurring in London and the West Midlands once HPA regional laboratories began detecting 100 or more influenza A/H1N1 2009 infections, or a proportion positive of over 20% of those tested, each week.
Conclusions Trends in the proportion of patients with influenza A/H1N1 2009 across regions detected through clinical management were mirrored by the proportion of NHS Direct callers with laboratory confirmed infection. The initial concern that information from HPA regional laboratory reports would be too limited because it was based on testing patients with either travel associated risk or who were contacts of other influenza cases was unfounded. Reports from HPA regional laboratories could be used to recognise the extent to which local community transmission was occurring.
PMCID: PMC2733951  PMID: 19713236
24.  Genetic Structure of Human A/H1N1 and A/H3N2 Influenza Virus on Corsica Island: Phylogenetic Analysis and Vaccine Strain Match, 2006–2010 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24471.
The aim of this study was to analyse the genetic patterns of Hemagglutinin (HA) genes of influenza A strains circulating on Corsica Island during the 2006–2009 epidemic seasons and the 2009–2010 pandemic season.
Nasopharyngeal samples from 371 patients with influenza-like illness (ILI) were collected by General Practitioners (GPs) of the Sentinelles Network through a randomised selection routine.
Phylogenetic analysis of HA revealed that A/H3N2 strains circulating on Corsica were closely related to the WHO recommended vaccine strains in each analyzed season (2006–2007 to 2008–2009). Seasonal Corsican influenza A/H1N1 isolated during the 2007–2008 season had drifted towards the A/Brisbane/59/2007 lineage, the A/H1N1 vaccine strain for the 2008–2009 season. The A/H1N1 2009 (A/H1N1pdm) strains isolated on Corsica Island were characterized by the S220T mutation specific to clade 7 isolates. It should be noted that Corsican isolates formed a separate sub-clade of clade 7 as a consequence of the presence of the fixed substitution D222E.
The percentages of the perfect match vaccine efficacy, estimated by using the pepitope model, against influenza viruses circulating on Corsica Island varied substantially across the four seasons analyzed, and tend to be highest for A/H1N1 compared with A/H3N2 vaccines, suggesting that cross-immunity seems to be stronger for the H1 HA gene.
The molecular analysis of the HA gene of influenza viruses that circulated on Corsica Island between 2006–2010 showed for each season the presence of a dominant lineage characterized by at least one fixed mutation. The A/H3N2 and A/H1N1pdm isolates were characterized by multiples fixation at antigenic sites. The fixation of specific mutations at each outbreak could be explained by the combination of a neutral phenomenon and a founder effect, favoring the presence of a dominant lineage in a closed environment such as Corsica Island.
PMCID: PMC3173375  PMID: 21935413
25.  Early Detection of Pandemic (H1N1) 2009, Bangladesh 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2012;18(1):146-149.
To explore Bangladesh’s ability to detect novel influenza, we examined a series of laboratory-confirmed pandemic (H1N1) 2009 cases. During June–July 2009, event-based surveillance identified 30 case-patients (57% travelers); starting July 29, sentinel sites identified 252 case-patients (1% travelers). Surveillance facilitated response weeks before the spread of pandemic (H1N1) 2009 infection to the general population.
PMCID: PMC3310083  PMID: 22257637
Bangladesh; H1N1; influenza; viruses; management; outcome; pandemic (H1N1) 2009; pandemic; respiratory infections

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