FluWatch report: October 12 to 18, 2014 (Week 42)

Overall summary

  • Influenza indicators (activity levels, influenza detections, influenza outbreaks and hospitalizations) in some regions across Canada continued to increase in week 42.
  • So far this season, A(H3N2) has been the most common type of influenza affecting Canadians.
  • To date, the majority of influenza laboratory detections and hospitalizations have been in seniors ≥65 years of age.

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Organization: Public Health Agency of Canada

Date published: 2014-10-24

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Influenza/ILI Activity (geographic spread)

In week 42, the majority of regions in Canada reported no activity; however, two regions (BC(1), ON(1)) reported localized activity and 12 regions (BC(2), AB(4), ON(3) and QC(3)) reported sporadic activity (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Map of overall influenza/ILI activity level by province and territory, Canada, Week 42

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 on the Flu Activity website.

   Figure 1 Map of overall influenza/ILI activity level by province and territory, Canada, Week 30 - Text Description

In week 42, the majority of regions in Canada reported no activity; however, two regions (BC(1), ON(1)) reported localized activity and 12 regions (BC(2), AB(4), ON(3) and QC(3)) reported sporadic activity. No data was reported for three regions (SK).

Influenza and Other Respiratory Virus Detections

The number of positive influenza tests continued to increase in week 42 to 48 influenza detections (1.9% of tests) (Figure 2). To date, 79% of influenza detections have been influenza A, and the majority of those subtyped have been A(H3) (Table 1). The number of positive influenza B detections has increased over the past two weeks as well. Among cases with reported age, the largest proportion was in those ≥65 years of age (52%) (Table 2).

Figure 2. Number of positive influenza tests and percentage of tests positive, by type, subtype and report week, Canada, 2014-15

Figure 2
   Figure 2 Number of positive influenza tests and percentage of tests positive, by type, subtype and report week, Canada, 2014-15 - Text Description

The number of positive influenza tests continued to increase in week 42 to 48 influenza detections (1.9% of tests).

In week 42, detections of other respiratory viruses were in keeping with their usual pattern of seasonal circulation. Detections of adenovirus in recent weeks have been slightly higher than observed in previous seasons. Detections of rhinovirus peaked in week 39 and have decreased over the past three weeks; however, more detections of rhinovirus were reported this year compared to previous seasons (figure 3).

For more details, see the weekly Respiratory Virus Detections in Canada Report.

Figure 3. Number of positive laboratory tests for other respiratory viruses by report week, Canada, 2014-15

Figure 3
RSV: Respiratory syncytial virus; hMPV: Human metapneumovirus
   Figure 3 Number of positive laboratory tests for other respiratory viruses by report week, Canada, 2014-15 - Text Description

In week 42, detections of other respiratory viruses were in keeping with their usual pattern of seasonal circulation. Detections of adenovirus in recent weeks have been slightly higher than observed in previous seasons. Detections of rhinovirus peaked in week 39 and have decreased over the past three weeks; however, more detections of rhinovirus were reported this year compared to previous seasons.

Table 1: Weekly and cumulative numbers of positive influenza specimens by type, subtype and province, Canada, 2014-15
Reporting provincesFootnote 1 Weekly (October 12 to October 18, 2014) Cumulative (August 24 to October 18, 2014)
Influenza A B Influenza A B
A Total A(H1)pdm09 A(H3) A Footnote (Uns) B Total A Total A(H1)pdm09 A(H3) A(UnS) B Total
BC 2 0 0 2 6 37 2 36 3 12
AB 19 0 12 7 3 59 0 49 10 9
SK 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 2 0
MB 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1
ON 6 1 1 4 5 25 2 13 9 10
QC 5 0 0 5 2 22 0 0 22 8
NB 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
NS 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
PE 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0
NL 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0
Canada 32 1 13 18 16 147 4 95 48 40
Percentage Footnote 2 66.7% 3.1% 40.6% 56.3% 33.3% 78.6% 2.7% 64.6% 32.7% 21.4%
Table 2. Weekly and cumulative numbers of positive influenza specimens by type, subtype and age-group reported through case-based laboratory reportingFootnote 1,Footnote 3, Canada, 2014-15
Age groups (years) Weekly (October 12 to October 18, 2014) Cumulative (August 24, 2014 to October 18, 2014)
Influenza A B Influenza A B Influenza A and B
A Total A(H1) pdm09 A(H3) A Footnote (Uns) Total A Total A(H1) pdm09 A(H3) A (UnS) Total # %
<5 4 0 1 3 0 18 3 7 8 7 25 13.5%
5-19 3 0 1 2 0 16 0 7 9 3 19 10.3%
20-44 3 0 1 2 1 13 0 2 11 2 15 8.1%
45-64 1 0 0 1 6 17 0 6 11 12 29 15.7%
65+ 9 0 7 2 4 85 1 41 43 12 97 52.4%
Unknown 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0%
Total 20 0 10 10 11 149 4 63 82 36 185 100.0%
PercentageFootnote 2 64.5% 0.0% 50.0% 50.0% 35.5% 80.5% 2.7% 42.3% 55.0% 19.5%    

Influenza Strain Characterizations

During the 2014-2015 influenza season, the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) has antigenically characterized 2 influenza viruses [one A(H3N2) and one influenza B]. Both viruses were similar to the strains recommended by the WHO for the 2014-15 seasonal influenza vaccine (Figure 4).

Figure 4. Influenza strain characterizations, Canada, 2014-2015, N = 2

Figure 4

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 (HAI) testing compared to the reference influenza strains recommended by WHO.

The recommended components for the 2014-2015 northern hemisphere trivalent influenza vaccine include: an A/California/7/2009(H1N1)pdm09-like virus, an A/Texas/50/2012 (H3N2)-like virus, and a B/Massachusetts/2/2012-like virus (Yamagata lineage). For quadrivalent vaccines, the addition of a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus is recommended.

   Figure 4 Influenza strain characterizations, Canada, 2014-2015, N = 2 - Text Description
Strain Number of specimens Percentage
A/Texas/50/2012-like 1 50%
reduced titres to A/Texas/50/2012 0 0%
A/California/07/2009-like 0 0%
reduced titres to A/California/07/2009 0 0%
B/Massachusetts/2/2012-like 1 50%
B/Brisbane/60/2008-like 0 0%

Antiviral Resistance

During the 2014-2015 influenza season, NML has tested 3 influenza viruses for resistance to oseltamivir and zanamivir and all were sensitive to both agents. The two influenza A(H3N2) viruses tested for amantadine resistance were both resistant (Table 3).

Table 3. Antiviral resistance by influenza virus type and subtype, Canada, 2014-15
Virus type and subtype Oseltamivir Zanamivir Amantadine
# tested # resistant (%) # tested # resistant (%) # tested # resistant (%)
A (H3N2) 2 0 2 0 2 2
A (H1N1) 0 0 0 0 0 0
B 1 0 1 0 NATable 3 - Footnote * NA Table 3 - Footnote *
TOTAL 3 0 3 0 2 2

Influenza-like Illness (ILI) Consultation Rate

The national influenza-like-illness (ILI) consultation rate decreased in week 42 to 28.1 consultations per 1,000 (Figure 5). The rates since mid-June have been above the expected range for this time of year.

Figure 5. Influenza-like-illness (ILI) consultation rates by report week, compared to the 1996-97 through to 2012-13 seasons (with pandemic data suppressed), Canada, 2014-2015

Figure 5

No data available for mean rate for weeks 19 to 39 for the 1996-1997 through 2002-2003 seasons. Delays in the reporting of data may cause data to change retrospectively. The calculation of the average ILI consultation rate over 17 seasons was aligned with influenza activity in each season. In BC, AB, and SK, data is compiled by a provincial sentinel surveillance program for reporting to FluWatch. Not all sentinel physicians report every week.

   Figure 5 Influenza-like-illness (ILI) consultation rates by report week, compared to the 1996-97 through to 2012-13 seasons (with pandemic data suppressed), Canada, 2015-16 - Text Description

The national influenza-like-illness (ILI) consultation rate decreased in week 42 to 28.1 consultations per 1,000. The rates since mid-June have been above the expected range for this time of year.

Influenza Outbreak Surveillance

In week 42, three new outbreaks of influenza were reported in long-term care facility (Figure 6).

Figure 6: Overall number of new laboratory-confirmed influenza outbreaks by report week, Canada, 2014-2015

Figure 6

1 All provinces and territories except NU report outbreaks in long-term care facilities. All provinces and territories with the exception of NU and QC report outbreaks in hospitals. Outbreaks of influenza or influenza-like-illness in other facilities are reported to FluWatch but reporting varies between jurisdictions. Outbreak definitions are included at the end of the report.

   Figure 6 Overall number of new laboratory-confirmed influenza outbreaks by report week, Canada, 2015-2016 - Text Description
Report week Hospitals Long Term Care Facilities
35 0 0
36 0 0
37 0 0
38 0 1
39 0 5
40 0 0
41 0 2
42 0 3

Pharmacy surveillance

During week 42, the proportion of prescriptions for antivirals increased to 16.3 antiviral prescriptions per 100,000 total prescriptions, which is in keeping with previous seasons (Figure 7).

Figure 7. Proportion of prescription sales for influenza antivirals by age-group and week, Canada, 2014-15

Figure 7

Note: Pharmacy sales data are provided to the Public Health Agency of Canada by Rx Canada Inc. and sourced from major retail drug chains representing over 2,500 stores nationwide (excluding Nunavut) in 85% of Health Regions. Data provided include the number of new antiviral prescriptions (for Tamiflu and Relenza) and the total number of new prescriptions dispensed by Province/Territory and age group. Age-groups: Infant: 0-2y, Child: 2-18y; Adult: 19-64y, Senior: ≥65y

   Figure 7 Proportion of prescription sales for influenza antivirals by age-group and week, Canada, 2015-16 - Text Description

Proportion of antiviral prescriptions per 100,000 total prescriptions in week 42 for the current season compared to previous seasons:
2014-15: 16.3; 2013-14: 12.1; 2012-13: 13.0; 2011-12: 15.8
Proportion of antiviral prescriptions by age-group in week 42 for the 2014-15 season:
Infant: 0.0; child: 18.0; adult: 21.0; senior: 5.4

Sentinel Hospital Influenza Surveillance

Paediatric Influenza Hospitalizations and Deaths (IMPACT)

In week 42, one new laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated paediatric (≤16 years of age) hospitalization was reported by the Immunization Monitoring Program Active (IMPACT) network (Figure 8a). To date this season, eight hospitalizations have been reported by the IMPACT network, all cases were influenza A, and five of the eight were A(H3N2) (Table 4). To date, two cases were admitted to the ICU (Figure 9a).

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.

Adult Influenza Hospitalizations and Deaths (PCIRN)

Surveillance of laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated adult (≥16 years of age) hospitalizations by the PHAC/CIHR Influenza Research Network (PCIRN) Serious Outcomes Surveillance (SOS) network has not yet begun for the 2014-15 season (Figure 8b).

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

Table 4 - Cumulative numbers of paediatric hospitalizations with influenza reported by the IMPACT network, Canada, 2014-15
Age groups Cumulative (Aug. 24, 2014 to October 18, 2014)
Influenza A B Influenza A and B
A Total A(H1) pdm09 A(H3) AFootnote (Uns) Total # (%)
0-5m 0 0 0 0 0 0(0%)
6-23m 2 1 1 0 0 2 (25%)
2-4y 3 0 1 2 0 3 (38%)
5-9y 1 0 1 0 0 1 (13%)
10-16y 2 0 2 0 0 2 (25%)
Total 8 1 5 2 0 8
% Footnote 1 100.0% 12.5% 62.5% 25.0% 0.0% 100.0%

Table 5 - Cumulative numbers of adult hospitalizations with influenza reported by the PCIRN-SOS network, Canada, 2014-15

PCIRN-SOS surveillance for the 2014-15 season has not yet begun.

Figure 8 - Number of cases of influenza reported by sentinel hospital networks, by week, Canada, 2014-15

A) Paediatric hospitalizations (≤16 years of age, IMPACT)

Figure 8A
   Figure 8A Number of cases of influenza reported by sentinel hospital networks, by week, Canada, 2015-16 - Text Description
Report week Influenza A Influenza B
35 0 0
36 0 0
37 2 0
38 1 0
39 1 0
40 1 0
41 2 0
42 1 0

Figure 8B - Number of cases of influenza reported by sentinel hospital networks, by week, Canada, 2014-15

B) Adult hospitalizations (≥16 year of age, PCIRN-SOS)

Figure 8B
   Figure 8B Number of cases of influenza reported by sentinel hospital networks, by week, Canada, 2015-16 - Text Description

PCIRN-SOS surveillance for the 2014-15 season has not yet begun.

Figure 9 - Percentage of hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths with influenza reported by age-group, Canada, 2014-15

A) Paediatric hospitalizations (≤16 years of age, IMPACT)

Figure 9a
   Figure 9A Percentage of hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths with influenza reported by age-group, Canada, 2014-15 A) Paediatric hospitalizations (≤16 years of age, IMPACT) - Text Description
Age-group (years) Hospitalizations (n=8) ICU admissions (n=2)
0-5m 0.0% 0.0%
6-23m 25.0% 0.0%
2-4y 37.5% 50.0%
5-9y 12.5% 0.0%
10-16y 25.0% 50.0%

B) Adult hospitalizations (≥16 year of age, PCIRN-SOS)

PCIRN-SOS surveillance for the 2014-15 season has not yet begun.

Provincial/Territorial Influenza Hospitalizations and Deaths

Since the start of the 2014-15 season, 33 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations have been reported from participating provinces and territoriesFootnote *, 31 were cases of influenza A, of which the majority were A(H3N2); 58% were patients ≥65 years of age. No ICU admissions were reported. Three deaths with influenza A(H3N2) have been reported in adults ≥45 years of age.

Table 6. Cumulative number of hospitalizations with influenza reported by the participating provinces and territories, Canada, 2014-15
Age groups Cumulative (24 August 2014 to 18 October 2014)
Influenza A B Influenza A and B
A Total A(H1) pdm09 A(H3) AFootnote (Uns) Total # (%)
0-4 years 3 0 2 1 0 3 (9%)
5-19 years 3 0 3 0 0 3 (9%)
20-44 years 1 1 0 0 1 2 (6%)
45-64 years 5 0 5 0 1 6 (18%)
65+ years 19 0 12 75 0 19 (58%)
Unknown 0 0 0 0 0 0 (0%)
Total 31 1 22 8 2 33
Percentage Footnote 1 93.9% 3.2% 71.0% 25.8% 6.1% 100.0%

See additional data on Reported Influenza Hospitalizations and Deaths in Canada: 2009-10 to 2014-15 on the Public Health Agency of Canada website.

Emerging Respiratory Pathogens

Human Avian Influenza
Influenza A(H7N9): Two new cases and one new death with influenza A(H7N9) have been reported by the World Health Organization since the last FluWatch report. Globally to October 23, 2014, the WHO has been informed of a total of 455 laboratory-confirmed human cases with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus, including 176 deaths.

Documents related to the public health risk of influenza A(H7N9), as well as guidance for health professionals and advice for the public is updated regularly on the following websites:

PHAC - Avian influenza A(H7N9)
WHO - Avian Influenza A(H7N9)

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)

Globally, from September 2012 to October 23, 2014, the WHO has been informed of a total of 883 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 319 deaths. All cases have either occurred in the Middle East or have had direct links to a primary case infected in the Middle East. The public health risk posed by MERS-CoV in Canada remains low (see the PHAC Assessment of Public Health Risk).

Documents related to the public health risk of MERS-CoV, as well as guidance for health professionals and advice for the public is updated regularly on the following websites:

Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68)

The Chief Public Health Officer of Canada released a message on EV-D68 on October 17, 2014 and can be viewed through the following link: Message from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada - Enterovirus-D68.

Information related to enterovirus D68, as well as guidance for health professionals and advice for the public is updated regularly:

International Influenza Reports


FluWatch definitions for the 2014-2015 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.

We would like to thank all the Fluwatch surveillance partners who are participating in this year's influenza surveillance program.

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