FluWatch report: January 17, 2016 - January 23, 2016 (week 03)
- Overall in week 03, seasonal influenza activity increased from the previous week but remains below expected levels for this time of the year.
- Hospitalizations among the pediatric population increased in week 03.
- Influenza A(H1N1) is the most common influenza subtype circulating in Canada.
- Influenza strains characterized by the National Microbiology Laboratory this season appear to be a good match to the World Health Organization's recommended vaccine strains.
- For more information on the flu, see our Flu(influenza) web page.
Organization: Public Health Agency of Canada
Date published: 2016-01-29
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On this page
- Influenza/ILI Activity (geographic spread)
- Laboratory Confirmed Influenza Detections
- Influenza-like Illness Consultation Rate
- Influenza Outbreak Surveillance
- Sentinel Pediatric Hospital Influenza Surveillance
- Provincial/Territorial Influenza Hospitalizations and Deaths
- Influenza Strain Characterizations
- Antiviral Resistance
- International Influenza Reports
- FluWatch definitions for the 2015-2016 season
Influenza/Influenza-like Illness Activity (geographic spread)
In week 03, influenza/ILI activity increased in Canada. A total of 27 regions across Canada reported sporadic influenza/ILI activity. Localized activity was reported in six regions in Canada (one each in BC, AB and NS, and three in ON).
Laboratory Confirmed Influenza Detections
Laboratory confirmed influenza detections continue to increase steadily. The percent positive for influenza increased from 7.0% in week 02 to 12.4% in week 03 (Figure 2). Compared to the previous five seasons, the percent positive (12.4%) reported in week 03 was below the five year average for that week and below expected levels (range 13.2%-29.7%).
In week 03, there were 594 positive influenza tests reported. Influenza A(H1N1) was the most common subtype detected. The majority of influenza detections were reported from Western Canada, where BC and AB accounted for 69% of influenza detections in Canada in week 03. To date, 79% of influenza detections have been influenza A and among those subtyped, the majority have been influenza A(H1N1) [63% (744/1186)].
Figure 3. Cumulative numbers of positive influenza specimens by type/subtype and province, Canada, 2015-16
Note: Specimens from NT, YT, and NU are sent to reference laboratories in other provinces. Cumulative data includes updates to previous weeks.
To date this season, detailed information on age and type/subtype has been received for 1,435 cases. Adults aged 65 years and older accounted for 27% of reported influenza cases (Table 1). Adults aged 65 years and older also represented 44% of reported A(H3N2) cases. Adults aged 20-44 years represented 26% of reported influenza A(H1N1) cases and 29% of reported influenza B cases.
|Age groups (years)||Weekly (January 17 to January 23, 2016)||Cumulative (August 30, 2015 to January 23, 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||#||%|
|PercentageTable 1 - Footnote 2||62.6%||20.6%||10.1%||69.3%||37.4%||71.4%||24.5%||40.1%||35.4%||28.6%|
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 increased from the previous week from 12.5 per 1,000 patient visits in week 02, to 15.6 per 1,000 patient visits in week 03. In week 03, the highest ILI consultation rate was found in those 0-4 years of age (26.9 per 1,000) and the lowest was found in the ≥65 years age group (2.7 per 1,000) (Figure 4).
Influenza Outbreak Surveillance
In week 03, six new laboratory confirmed influenza outbreaks: four in long-term care facilities (LTCF), one in a hospital and one in an institutional or community setting. Two outbreaks were due to influenza B, one outbreak was due to influenza A (UnS) and the remainder were unknown. To date this season, 46 outbreaks have been reported (23 of which occurred in LTCFs). In comparison, at week 03 in the 2014-15 season, 941 outbreaks were reported (741 of which occurred in LTCFs) and in the 2013-14 season, 60 outbreaks were reported (33 of which occurred in LTCFs).
Figure 5. Overall number of new laboratory-confirmed influenza outbreaksFigure 5 - Footnote 1 by report week, Canada, 2015-2016
Sentinel Pediatric Hospital Influenza Surveillance
Paediatric Influenza Hospitalizations and Deaths
In week 03, 24 hospitalizations were reported by the the Immunization Monitoring Program Active (IMPACT) network (Figure 6). Nine hospitalizations were due to influenza A(H1N1) (38%), five were due to influenza B (21%) and the remainder were influenza A (UnS).
To date this season, 94 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated paediatric (≤16 years of age) hospitalizations have been reported by the IMPACT network. Seventy-one hospitalized cases were due to influenza A and 23 cases were due to influenza B. The majority of hospitalized cases were among children aged 2-4 years (32%). To date, 13 intensive care unit (ICU) admissions have been reported. The majority of ICU admissions were reported in children 2-4 years (46%) and due to influenza A(H1N1) (38%). Less than five influenza-associated deaths have been reported.
|Age Groups||Cumulative (30 Aug. 2015 to 23 January 2016)|
|Influenza A||Influenza B|
|A(H3)||A (UnS)||B Total|
|6-23m||17||9||<5||Table 2 - Footnote x||<5|
|5-9y||10||<5||0||Table 2 - Footnote x||6|
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)
Not included in Table 2 and Figure 6 are two IMPACT cases that were due to co-infections of influenza A and B.
Adult Influenza Hospitalizations and Deaths
In week 03, 15 hospitalizations were reported by the Canadian Immunization Research Network Serious Outcome Surveillance (CIRN-SOS). The majority of hospitalizations were in adults 45-64 years of age (47%) and due to influenza A (73%).
To date this season, 71 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated adult (≥16 years of age) hospitalizations have been reported by CIRN-SOS (Table 3). The majority of hospitalized cases were due to influenza A (77%) and were among adults ≥65 years of age (49%). Five intensive care unit (ICU) admissions have been reported and among those, four (80%) were due to influenza A. No deaths have been reported.
|Age groups (years)||Cumulative (1 Nov. 2015 to 16 Jan. 2016)|
|Influenza A||B||Influenza A and B|
|A Total||A(H1) pdm09||A(H3)||A(UnS)||Total||# (%)|
Figure 7. Percentage of hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths with influenza reported by age-group (≥16 year of age), Canada 2015-16
Note: The number of hospitalizations reported through CIRN-SOS and IMPACT represents a subset of all influenza-associated adult and paediatric hospitalizations in Canada. Delays in the reporting of data may cause data to change retrospectively.
Provincial/Territorial Influenza Hospitalizations and Deaths
In week 03, 51 hospitalizations have been reported from participating provinces and territoriesFootnote *. The majority of hospitalizations were due to influenza A (86%) and reported in the 0-4 years age group (35%).
Since the start of the 2015-16 season, 343 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations have been reported. Two hundred and ninety-nine hospitalizations (87%) were due to influenza A and 44 (13%) were due to influenza B. Among cases for which the subtype of influenza A was reported, 69% (129/187) were influenza A(H1N1). The majority (37%) of hospitalized cases were ≥65 years of age. Thirty-two ICU admissions have been reported of which 26 (82%) were due to influenza A and 12 (38%) were in the 45-64 age group. A total of 14 deaths have been reported, all due to influenza A.
Figure 8. Percentage of hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths with influenza reported by age-group, Canada 2015-16
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 234 influenza viruses [100 A(H3N2), 94 A(H1N1) and 40 influenza B].
Influenza A (H3N2): When tested by hemagglutination inhibition (HI) assays, twelve 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 88 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): Ninety-four H1N1 viruses characterized were antigenically similar to A/California/7/2009, the A(H1N1) component of the 2015-16 influenza vaccine.
Influenza B: Twenty-five influenza B viruses characterized were antigenically similar to the vaccine strain B/Phuket/3073/2013. Fifteen 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.
During the 2015-16 season, the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) has tested 222 influenza viruses for resistance to oseltamivir and zanamivir. All viruses were sensitive to zanamivir and oseltamivir. A total of 161 influenza A viruses (99%) were resistant to amantadine. (Table 4).
|Virus type and subtype||Oseltamivir||Zanamivir||Amantadine|
|# tested||# resistant (%)||# tested||# resistant (%)||# tested||# resistant (%)|
|A (H3N2)||96||0||96||0||101||100 (99%)|
|A (H1N1)||85||0||85||0||61||61 (100%)|
|B||41||0||41||0||NA Table 4 - Footnote *||NA Table 4 - Footnote *|
International Influenza Reports
- World Health Organization influenza update
- World Health Organization FluNet
- WHO Influenza at the human-animal interface
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention seasonal influenza report
- European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control - epidemiological data
- South Africa Influenza surveillance report
- New Zealand Public Health Surveillance
- Australia Influenza Report
- Pan-American Health Organization Influenza Situation Report
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.
- 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.
- 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:
- evidence of increased ILIFootnote * and
- lab confirmed influenza detection(s) together with
- outbreaks in schools, hospitals, residential institutions and/or other types of facilities occurring in less than 50% of the influenza surveillance regionFootnote †
4 = Widespread:
- evidence of increased ILIFootnote * and
- lab confirmed influenza detection(s) together with
- 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.
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