Influenza

InfluenzaInfluenza is a major public health problem. New strains of flu continually evolve, which means that they can spread despite relatively high levels of immunity in the population. This leads to epidemics that occur every winter and are associated with perhaps thousands of hospitalisations and deaths annually. There are many unanswered questions that we are trying to address within cmmid: Why does flu peak in the winter? What is the relationship between population immunity, evolution of new flu strains, and epidemic severity? Can we predict how severe an epidemic might be? What has the impact of vaccination been, and should we alter our national vaccination campaign?

Periodically, the flu virus undergoes a major evolutionary change, which results in a global pandemic as we are all likely to have lower levels of immunity to these strains. The last such event occurred in 2009, though the impact of this strain was not as severe as had been feared. Members of cmmid, along with colleagues at the HPA, were actively engaged in monitoring the spread of flu, analysing the epidemiological data, predicting the course of the epidemic, and offering policy advice to the Department of Health and other bodies.

During the pandemic we set up the flusurvey – an online influenza monitoring tool in which members of the public report their symptoms each week. The flusurvey now runs every winter, and it gives an invaluable insight into the spread of flu in the community.

People

Marc Baguelin, Anton Camacho, Ken Eames, John Edmunds, Stefan Flasche, Sebastian Funk, Mark Jit

References

  1. Baguelin M, Camacho A, Flasche S Edmunds WJ. Extending the elderly- and risk-group programme of vaccination against seasonal influenza in England and Wales: a cost-effectiveness study BMC Medicine 2015, 13:236 doi:10.1186/s12916-015-0452-y.
  2. Baguelin M, Flasche S, Camacho A, Demiris N, Miller E, et al. Assessing Optimal Target Populations for Influenza Vaccination Programmes: An Evidence Synthesis and Modelling Study. PLoS Med. 2013; 10(10): e1001527.
  3. Eames KT, Tilston NL, Brooks-Pollock E, Edmunds WJ. Measured Dynamic Social Contact Patterns Explain the Spread of H1N1v Influenza. PLoS Comput Biol. 2012 Mar;8(3):e1002425. Epub 2012 Mar 8.
  4. Flasche S, Hens N, Boƫlle PY, et al. Different transmission patterns in the early stages of the influenza A(H1N1)v pandemic: a comparative analysis of 12 European countries. Epidemics. 2011 Jun;3(2):125-33.
  5. Brooks-Pollock E, Tilston N, Edmunds WJ, Eames KT. Using an online survey of healthcare-seeking behaviour to estimate the magnitude and severity of the 2009 H1N1v influenza epidemic in England. BMC Infect Dis. 2011 Mar 16;11:68.
  6. Eames KT, Brooks-Pollock E, Paolotti D, Perosa M, Gioannini C, Edmunds WJ. Rapid assessment of influenza vaccine effectiveness: analysis of an internet-based cohort. Epidemiol Infect. 2011 Sep 12:1-7.

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