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Pernille Jorgensen

Update on influenza activity this winter in Europe and elsewhere

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This winter, influenza activity in the European Region started to increase earlier than in recent years. Influenza A(H3N2) virus represented about 98% of influenza A viruses detected and typed so far. The distribution of viruses may change over the course of a winter, and so it is currently unclear whether or not the predominant virus will remain the same for the duration of the winter. 

So far this influenza season in the European Region, circulating A(H3N2) viruses are antigenically similar to the vaccine strain. Early monitoring of vaccine effectiveness in Scandinavia suggests that levels of effectiveness are similar to previous years.

While vaccination against influenza reduces the risk of infection and hospitalization, it is not 100% effective. Therefore health providers should preferentially suspect and treat severe influenza in the elderly and other risk groups, including considering the use of influenza-specific antiviral medicines even in patients who have been vaccinated. The majority of recently circulating influenza viruses tested were found to be susceptible to the neuraminidase inhibitor class of antiviral medications.

Pooled analysis of data from 19 European Union/European Economic Area countries or regions reporting to the European Monitoring of Excess Mortality for Public Health project indicated that excess all-cause mortality seems to have been increasing among the elderly in recent weeks, notably in France and Portugal. This may be due to influenza and, for some countries, the extremely cold weather. However, the observed increase in excess mortality is prone to uncertainty due to delayed adjustment and should be interpreted with caution.

For more information on the influenza situation in Europe and the World please visit:

Flu News Europe https://flunewseurope.org/
WHO global influenza updates http://www.who.int/influenza/surveillance_monitoring/updates/en

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