Today ECDC publishes its risk assessment on the 2012/13 seasonal influenza epidemics in Europe. Epidemics started earlier than in the previous season and western Europe and Scandinavia were the first affected areas.
To date, south-western European countries (Spain and Portugal) have been less affected. ECDC advises central and eastern Europe to continue preparing for a similar pattern of transmission and intensity to that seen in western Europe and Scandinavian countries. Overall, this year there is no clear dominance of any particular influenza viruses.
ECDC has produced an annual risk assessment of the seasonal influenza epidemics in Europe since the 2010/11 season following the model developed by ECDC during the 2009 pandemic. It gives an early description of the influenza season in the countries affected earliest, providing guidance and information to countries that are affected later, as influenza progresses across Europe over several months. It describes any specifics of the season, particularly in areas where public health or clinical actions are envisaged, as well as highlights areas of uncertainty where further work is required.
Marc Sprenger, director of ECDC said: “Influenza has to be taken seriously – each year, around 10% of the population is infected and influenza-related complications cause hundreds of thousands of hospitalisations across Europe. ECDC takes this very seriously which is why we work closely with our partners and countries across Europe to gather and share information as quickly as possible.
"ECDC is thankful to its partners such as WHO Regional Office for Europe and European countries that gather and share information as quickly as possible throughout influenza season. This allows us all to recognise influenza patterns early which gives countries involved the best opportunity to plan resources and hopefully reduce the burden of the disease.”
The proportions of type A and type B viruses have been fairly even. The A(H3N2), A(H1N1) and both lineages of B viruses are all circulating though with different countries reporting different dominant viruses.
This pattern differs from what is observed in North America where influenza A(H3N2) viruses have been predominating among the A viruses. In other northern hemisphere countries outside Europe the intensity of influenza activity is high, but heterogeneous.