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Friday, 3 January 2014

Influenza 2014 - pandemicH1N1 the sequel

It sounds like an awful movie title, but the pandemic H1N1 strain is entering for a second show. 

The best way these days to figure out what is happening with influenza is not to use the usual updates from  PHAC fluwatch   CDC Fluview  or WHO influenza .   The best way is to watch the news stations and search engines like Google flutrends.

This year is appearing a bit different.  By the numbers so far, this is a solid “average influenza year” with many surveillance measures on the 10 year median.   There is something different however that is attracting attention.

The dominant strain is the same pandemic H1N1 that goes by the name of A/pdmH1N1/California/07/2009 which wreaked havoc and caused devastation in 2009.  While the impact of that year was that of a really bad influenza year, and many detractors claiming that public health cried “wolf”, the reality is the wake of devastation was substantive with about half million deaths worldwide.  Lancet 2012 publication

What is being seen this year is sporadic severe illness in person under 65 with co-morbidities including morbid obesity.   Surveillance systems are not refined enough to piece out demographics on severe illness which comparatively may be different from prior years. 

Alberta seems to be earliest out of the Canadian starting block this year, perhaps we can expect other provinces to begin reporting similar experiences as school begins to return. 

A ProMed posting from people in BC provides a strong indication of relative susceptibility amongst the under 65 population, and potentially among the naïve under 5 age group.

Lets hope that the early indications fizzle quickly, but while hoping for the best, be prepared for what others are already experiencing.  

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