FluWatch report: January 3, 2016 - January 9, 2016 (week 01)

Overall Summary

  • Overall, in week 01, seasonal influenza activity increased in Canada.
  • Laboratory detections of influenza increased but remain below expected levels for this time of the year.
  • In week 01, there was an increase in the number of laboratory detections and hospitalizations associated with influenza A(H1N1).
  • To date, the majority of influenza laboratory detections and hospitalizations have been in seniors greater than 65 years of age.
  • For more information on the flu, see our Flu(influenza) web page.

Download the alternative format
(PDF format, 1.01 MB, 8 pages)

Organization: Public Health Agency of Canada

Date published: 2016-01-15

Are you a primary health care practitioner (General Practitioner, Nurse Practitioner or Registered Nurse) interested in becoming a FluWatch sentinel for the 2015-16 influenza season? Contact us at FluWatch@phac-aspc.gc.ca

On this page

Influenza/Influenza-like Illness Activity (geographic spread)

In week 01, 25 regions across Canada reported sporadic influenza/ILI activity. Localized activity was reported in four regions in Canada (two in ON, one each in AB and NL).

Figure 1. Map of overall influenza/ILI activity level by province and territory, Canada, Week 01

Figure 1
Figure 1 Legend

Note: Influenza/ILI activity levels, as represented on this map, are assigned and reported by Provincial and Territorial Ministries of Health, based on laboratory confirmations, sentinel ILI rates and reported outbreaks. Please refer to detailed definitions at the end of the report. Maps from previous weeks, including any retrospective updates, are available in the mapping feature found in the Weekly Influenza Reports.

Figure 1 - Text Description

In week 01, 25 regions across Canada reported sporadic influenza/ILI activity.

Laboratory Confirmed Influenza Detections

Laboratory confirmed influenza detections continue to increase steadily. The percent positive for influenza increased from 4.3% in week 52 to 6.0% in week 01 (Figure 2). Compared to the previous five seasons, the percent positive (6.0%) reported in week 01 was below the five year average for that week and below expected levels (range 14.3%-33.2%).

Figure 2. Number of positive influenza tests and percentage of tests positive, by type, subtype and report week, Canada, 2015-16

Figure 2
Figure 2 - Text Description

The percent positive for influenza increased from 4.3% in week 52 to 6.0% in week 01.

In week 01, there were 306 positive influenza tests reported. Similar to the previous two weeks, the majority of subtyped influenza A viruses detected in Canada were influenza A(H1N1). Influenza A(H1N1) was the most common influenza A subtype detected in AB, SK, ON, NB, and PE in week 01. To date, 83% of influenza detections have been influenza A and among those subtyped approximately half have been influenza A(H3N2) [52% (344/659)].

Figure 3. Cumulative numbers of positive influenza specimens by type/subtype and province, Canada, 2015-16

Figure 3

Note: Specimens from NT, YT, and NU are sent to reference laboratories in other provinces. Cumulative data includes updates to previous weeks.

Figure 3 - Text Description
Reporting
provincesTable Figure 3 - Footnote 1
Weekly (January 3 to January 9, 2016) Cumulative (August 30, 2015 to January 9, 2016)
Influenza A B Influenza A B A & B
Total
A
Total
A
(H1)pdm09
A
(H3)
A Table Figure 3 - Footnote UnS B
Total
A
Total
A
(H1)pdm09
A
(H3)
ATable Figure 3 - Footnote UnS B
Total
BC 45 11 11 19 42 267 16 143 108 106 373
AB 94 69 6 23 17 248 156 67 25 55 303
SK 1 1 0 0 0 20 13 3 4 2 22
MB 5 0 5 0 0 10 0 8 2 1 11
ON 64 29 13 19 5 293 110 104 76 32 325
QC 24 0 0 24 1 135 3 0 132 15 150
NB 1 1 0 0 0 7 1 0 6 0 7
NS 2 0 0 2 0 10 0 1 9 0 10
PE 2 2 0 0 0 9 9 0 0 0 9
NL 1 0 0 1 2 7 4 2 1 3 10
YT 0 0 0 0 0 5 0 4 1 0 5
NT 0 0 0 0 0 12 0 12 0 0 12
NU 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 239 113 35 88 67 1023 312 344 364 214 1237
Percentage Table Figure 3 - Footnote 2 78.1% 47.3% 14.6% 36.8% 21.9% 82.7% 30.5% 33.6% 35.6% 17.3% 100.0%

To date this season, detailed information on age and type/subtype has been received for 864 cases. Adults aged 65 years and older accounted for 35% of reported influenza cases (Table 1). Adults aged 65 years and older also represented 47% of reported A(H3N2) cases. Adults aged 20-44 years represented 27% of reported influenza A(H1N1) cases and 24% of reported influenza B cases.

Table 1. Weekly and cumulative numbers of positive influenza specimens by type, subtype and age-group reported through case-based laboratory reportingTable 1 - Footnote 1, Canada, 2015-16
Age groups (years) Weekly (January 3 to January 9, 2016) Cumulative (August 30, 2015 to January 9, 2016)
Influenza A B Influenza A B Influenza A and B
A Total A(H1) pdm09 A(H3) A Table 1 - Footnote UnS Total A Total A(H1) pdm09 A(H3) A Table 1 - Footnote UnS Total # %
<5 11 3 0 8 5 80 29 24 27 20 100 11.6%
5-19 12 1 3 8 5 60 10 30 20 44 104 12.0%
20-44 26 2 3 21 12 118 33 44 41 45 163 18.9%
45-64 18 0 1 17 9 155 31 70 54 38 193 22.3%
65+ 23 1 3 19 6 260 16 147 97 40 300 34.7%
Unknown 1 1 0 0 0 3 2 1 0 1 4 0.5%
Total 91 8 10 73 37 676 121 316 239 188 864 100.0%
PercentageTable 1 - Footnote 2 71.1% 8.8% 11.0% 80.2% 28.9% 78.2% 17.9% 46.7% 35.4% 21.8%    

For additional data on other respiratory virus detections see the Respiratory Virus Detections in Canada Report on the Public Health Agency of Canada website.

Influenza-like Illness Consultation Rate

The national ILI consultation rate decreased from the previous week from 41.5 per 1,000 patient visits in week 52, to 28.4 per 1,000 patient visits in week 01. In week 01, the highest ILI consultation rate was found in those 0-4 years (62.5 per 1,000) of age and the lowest was found in the ≥65 years age group (Figure 4).

Figure 4. Influenza-like-illness (ILI) consultation rates by age group and week, Canada, 2015-16

Figure 4

Delays in the reporting of data may cause data to change retrospectively. In BC, AB, and SK, data are compiled by a provincial sentinel surveillance program for reporting to FluWatch. Not all sentinel physicians report every week.

Figure 4 - Text Description

Influenza-like illness consultation rate by age-group in week 01 for the 2015-16 season: Age 0-4: 62.46; Age 5-19: 33.64; Age 20-64: 25.47; Age 65+: 20.20

Influenza Outbreak Surveillance

In week 01, three new laboratory confirmed influenza outbreaks were reported. Two outbreaks were reported in long-term care facilities (LTCF) and one was due to influenza A. The other outbreak was reported in a institutional or community setting. To date this season, 36 outbreaks have been reported (17 of which occurred in LTCFs). In comparison, at week 01 in the 2014-15 season, 601 outbreaks were reported (471 of which occurred in LTCFs) and in the 2013-14 season, 34 outbreaks were reported (28 of which occurred in LTCFs).

Figure 5. Overall number of new laboratory-confirmed influenza outbreaksFigure 5 - Footnote 1 by report week, Canada, 2015-2016

Figure 5
Figure 5 - Text Description
Report week Hospitals Long Term Care Facilities Other
35 0 0 0
36 0 0 0
37 1 1 0
38 0 0 0
39 0 2 0
40 0 2 1
41 0 0 0
42 0 0 0
43 0 1 0
44 1 3 1
45 1 1 0
46 0 0 0
47 0 0 0
48 0 1 0
49 0 1 0
50 0 2 0
51 1 1 0
52 1 0 2
01 0 2 1

Sentinel Pediatric Hospital Influenza Surveillance

Paediatric Influenza Hospitalizations and Deaths

In week 01, sixteen hospitalizations were reported by the the Immunization Monitoring Program Active (IMPACT) network (Figure 6). Eight hospitalizations were due to influenza A(H1N1) (50%).

To date this season, 54 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated paediatric (≤16 years of age) hospitalizations have been reported by the IMPACT network. Forty-three hospitalized cases were due to influenza A and eleven cases were due to influenza B. The majority of hospitalized cases were among children aged 2-4 years (53%). Additionally, not included in Table 2 and Figure 6, two cases were due to co-infections of influenza A and B. To date, seven intensive care unit (ICU) admissions and less than five influenza-associated deaths have been reported.

Note: The number of hospitalizations reported through IMPACT represents a subset of all influenza-associated paediatric hospitalizations in Canada. Delays in the reporting of data may cause data to change retrospectively.

Table 2 - Cumulative numbers of peadiatric hospitalizations (≤16 years of age) with influenza reported by the IMPACT network, Canada, 2015-16
Age Groups Cumulative (30 Aug. 2015 to 9 January 2016) 
Influenza A Influenza B
A Total A(H1) pdm09 A(H3) A (UnS) B Total
0-5m          
6-23m          
2-4y  

Data suppressed due to small values

 
5-9y          
10-16y          

Figure 6. Number of cases of influenza reported by sentinel hospital networks, by week, Canada, 2015-16, paediatric and adult hospitalizations (≤16 years of age, IMPACT; ≥16 years of age, CIRN-SOS)

Figure 6
Figure 6 - Text Description
Report week Influenza A Influenza B
35 0 0
36 0 0
37 1 0
38 2 0
39 0 0
40 0 0
41 1 0
42 0 0
43 1 0
44 0 0
45 2 0
46 1 2
47 2 0
48 2 1
49 3 5
50 3 1
51 7 3
52 13 4
01 16 16

Adult Influenza Hospitalizations and Deaths

In week 01, sixteen hospitalizations were reported by the Canadian Immunization Research Network Serious Outcome Surveillance (CIRN-SOS),up from eight hospitalizations reported in week 52 (Figure 6). The majority of hospitalizations were in adults ≥65 years of age (63%) and due to influenza A (63%).

To date this season, 41 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated adult (≥16 years of age) hospitalizations have been reported by CIRN-SOS. The majority of hospitalized cases were due to influenza A (78%) and were among adults ≥65 years of age (54%). One intensive care unit (ICU) admission has been reported. No deaths have been reported.

Note: The number of hospitalizations reported through IMPACT represents a subset of all influenza-associated paediatric hospitalizations in Canada. Delays in the reporting of data may cause data to change retrospectively.

Table 3 - Cumulative numbers of adult hospitalizations (≥16 years of age) with influenza reported by the CIRN-SOS network, Canada, 2015-16
Age groups (years) Cumulative (1 Nov. 2015 to 9 Jan. 2016)
Influenza A B Influenza A and B
A Total A(H1) pdm09 A(H3) A(UnS) Total # (%)
16-20 1 1 0 0 0 1 (2%)
20-44 4 1 0 3 4 8 (20%)
45-64 8 0 1 7 2 10 (24%)
65+ 19 1 7 11 3 22 (54%)
Total 32 3 8 21 9 41
% 78% 9% 25% 66% 22% 100%

Figure 7. Percentage of hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths with influenza reported by age-group (≥16 year of age), Canada 2015-16

Figure 7
Figure 7 - Text Description
Age-group (years) Hospitalizations (n=41) ICU admissions (n=1) Deaths (n=0)
16-20 2.4% 0.0% 0.0%
20-44 19.5% 100.0% 0.0%
45-64 24.4% 0.0% 0.0%
65+ 53.7% 0.0% 0.0%

Provincial/Territorial Influenza Hospitalizations and Deaths

In week 01, 40 hospitalizations have been reported from participating provinces and territoriesFootnote *. The majority of hospitalizations were in adults ≥65 years of age (30%); however, the 0-4 age group and 45-64 age group followed closely representing 28% and 25% of hospitalizations respectively. Influenza A(H1N1) accounted for 60% of hospitalizations and among influenza A(H1N1) hospitalizations, nine (38%) were among children aged 0-4.

Since the start of the 2015-16 season, 201 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations have been reported. One hundred and seventy-six hospitalizations (88%) were due to influenza A and twenty-five (12%) were due to influenza B. Among cases for which the subtype of influenza A was reported, 53% (40/96) were influenza A(H1N1). The majority (43%) of hospitalized cases were ≥65 years of age. Eighteen ICU admissions and ten deaths have been reported.

Figure 8. Percentage of hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths with influenza reported by age-group, Canada 2015-16

Figure 8
Figure 8 - Text Description
Age-group (years) Hospitalizations (n=201) ICU admissions (n=18) Deaths (n=9)
0-4 14.9% 11.1% 11.1%
5-19 9.0% 5.6% 11.1%
20-44 12.4% 11.1% 11.1%
45-64 20.9% 33.3% 11.1%
65+ 42.8% 38.9% 55.6%

See additional data on Reported Influenza Hospitalizations and Deaths in Canada: 2011-12 to 2015-16 on the Public Health Agency of Canada website.

Influenza Strain Characterizations

During the 2015-16 influenza season, the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) has characterized 156 influenza viruses [86 A(H3N2), 39 A(H1N1) and 31 influenza B].

Influenza A (H3N2): When tested by hemagglutination inhibition (HI) assays, eight H3N2 virus were antigenically characterized as A/Switzerland/9715293/2013-like using antiserum raised against cell-propagated A/Switzerland/9715293/2013.  

Sequence analysis was done on 78 H3N2 viruses. All viruses belonged to a genetic group for which most viruses were antigenically related to A/Switzerland/9715293/2013.

A/Switzerland/9715293/2013 is the A(H3N2) component of the 2015-16 Northern Hemisphere's vaccine.

Influenza A (H1N1): Thirty-nine H1N1 viruses characterized were antigenically similar to A/California/7/2009, the A(H1N1) component of the 2015-16 influenza vaccine.

Influenza B: Twenty influenza B viruses characterized were antigenically similar to the vaccine strain B/Phuket/3073/2013. Eleven influenza B viruses were characterized as B/Brisbane/60/2008-like, one of the influenza B components of the 2015-16 Northern Hemisphere quadrivalent influenza vaccine.

The recommended components for the 2015-2016 northern hemisphere trivalent influenza vaccine include: an A/California/7/2009(H1N1)pdm09-like virus, an /Switzerland/9715293/2013(H3N2)-like virus, and a B/Phuket/3073/2013 -like virus (Yamagata lineage). For quadrivalent vaccines, the addition of a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus (Victoria lineage) is recommended.

The NML receives a proportion of the number of influenza positive specimens from provincial laboratories for strain characterization and antiviral resistance testing. Characterization data reflect the results of haemagglutination inhibition testing compared to the reference influenza strains recommended by WHO.

Antiviral Resistance

During the 2015-16 season, the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) has tested 152 influenza viruses for resistance to oseltamivir and 151 influenza viruses for zanamivir. All viruses were sensitive to zanamivir and oseltamivir. A total of 113 influenza A viruses (99%) were resistant to amantadine (Table 4).

Table 4. Antiviral resistance by influenza virus type and subtype, Canada, 2015-16
Virus type and subtype Oseltamivir Zanamivir Amantadine
# tested # resistant (%) # tested # resistant (%) # tested # resistant (%)
A (H3N2) 79 0 79 0 86 85 (98.8%)
A (H1N1) 40 0 39 0 28 28 (100%)
B 33 0 33 0 NA Table 4 - Footnote * NA Table 4 - Footnote *
TOTAL 152 0 151 0 114 113

International Influenza Reports


FluWatch definitions for the 2015-2016 season

Abbreviations: Newfoundland/Labrador (NL), Prince Edward Island (PE), New Brunswick (NB), Nova Scotia (NS), Quebec (QC), Ontario (ON), Manitoba (MB), Saskatchewan (SK), Alberta (AB), British Columbia (BC), Yukon (YT), Northwest Territories (NT), Nunavut (NU).

Influenza-like-illness (ILI): Acute onset of respiratory illness with fever and cough and with one or more of the following - sore throat, arthralgia, myalgia, or prostration which is likely due to influenza. In children under 5, gastrointestinal symptoms may also be present. In patients under 5 or 65 and older, fever may not be prominent.

ILI/Influenza outbreaks

Schools:
Greater than 10% absenteeism (or absenteeism that is higher (e.g. >5-10%) than expected level as determined by school or public health authority) which is likely due to ILI.
Note: it is recommended that ILI school outbreaks be laboratory confirmed at the beginning of influenza season as it may be the first indication of community transmission in an area.
Hospitals and residential institutions:
two or more cases of ILI within a seven-day period, including at least one laboratory confirmed case. Institutional outbreaks should be reported within 24 hours of identification. Residential institutions include but not limited to long-term care facilities (LTCF) and prisons.
Workplace:
Greater than 10% absenteeism on any day which is most likely due to ILI.
Other settings:
two or more cases of ILI within a seven-day period, including at least one laboratory confirmed case; i.e. closed communities.

Note that reporting of outbreaks of influenza/ILI from different types of facilities differs between jurisdictions.

Influenza/ILI activity level

1 = No activity: no laboratory-confirmed influenza detections in the reporting week, however, sporadically occurring ILI may be reported

2 = Sporadic: sporadically occurring ILI and lab confirmed influenza detection(s) with no outbreaks detected within the influenza surveillance region Footnote

3 = Localized:

  1. evidence of increased ILIFootnote * and
  2. lab confirmed influenza detection(s) together with
  3. outbreaks in schools, hospitals, residential institutions and/or other types of facilities occurring in less than 50% of the influenza surveillance regionFootnote

4 = Widespread:

  1. evidence of increased ILIFootnote * and
  2. lab confirmed influenza detection(s) together with
  3. outbreaks in schools, hospitals, residential institutions and/or other types of facilities occurring in greater than or equal to 50% of the influenza surveillance regionFootnote

Note: ILI data may be reported through sentinel physicians, emergency room visits or health line telephone calls.

Date modified: