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Flu Season

15 December 2015

Flu season is an annually recurring time period characterized by the prevalence of outbreaks of influenza (flu). The season occurs during the cold half of the year in each hemisphere. Influenza activity can sometimes be predicted and even tracked geographically, but the impact each winter is rarely easy to predict.

Flu is a key factor in NHS winter pressures. It impacts on both those who become ill, the NHS services that provide direct care, and on the wider health and social care system that supports people in at-risk groups. On top of the annual ‘usual’ pressures are the concerns of emerging novel flu strains and the potential for larger epidemics and a pandemic. Examples of influenza viruses with pandemic potential include avian influenza A (H5N1) and avian influenza A (H7N9), which are two different “bird flu” viruses. These are non-human viruses (i.e. they are novel among humans and circulate in birds in parts of the world) so there is little to no immunity against these viruses among people. Human infections with these viruses have occurred rarely, but if either of these viruses was to change in such a way that it was able to infect humans easily and spread easily from person to person, an influenza pandemic could result.

On the 10th December 2015, Public Health England released their latest weekly National Influenza Report. Influenza activity currently remains low in the UK, but detection has increased from the week before.

In week 49 2015 of the 1079 respiratory specimens reported through the Respiratory DataMart System, 38 samples (3.5%) were positive for influenza (23 A(H1N1)pdm09, 1 A(H3), 7 A(not subtyped) and 7 B). The highest influenza positivity was in the 15-44 years, 7.3%. The overall positivity for RSV increased from 21.8% in week 48 to 24.5% in week 49 with the highest positivity in children under 5 years (44.5%). Positivity for rhinovirus remained at a similar level to the previous week at 14.9%. hMPV increased to 4.1%. Parainfluenza decreased slightly to 4.6%. Adenovirus remained low at 2.9%.

To ensure effective management of patients and prevent further spread of respiratory pathogens an accurate and fast diagnostic tool is required. Launch Diagnostics Ltd. have a number of tests available from single rapid Influenza tests through to large multiplex pathogen panels. Please check out the product section of the website for further information.



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