ECDC has published Seasonal influenza in Europe: ECDC risk assessment for the 2013-2014 season. Click through to download the full report. Excerpt from the summary:
Active circulation of influenza has started late in Europe in the 2013-2014 season, with a different timing across EU/EEA countries, states the annual ECDC risk assessment on seasonal influenza.
The first countries affected have been Bulgaria, Greece, Portugal and Spain, where the A(H1)pdm09 influenza virus has dominated. Without any specific geographic pattern, influenza activity has since spread rapidly across Europe. In Bulgaria, Portugal and Spain, the season peaked in weeks 4 and 5/2014, while influenza activity still continues to increase in Greece.
Circulating virus types
In week 07/2014, circulating A(H1)pdm09 virus was dominant or co-dominant in 21 reporting countries while A(H3) was dominant in four countries. In contrast to the season in the US with an overwhelming dominance of A(H1)pdm09 virus and substantial numbers of severe cases, A(H1)pdm09 virus is not as dominant in EU/EEA countries. This may be due to differences in prior exposure to A(H1)pdm09 virus or higher vaccination coverage among the age groups most likely to transmit the disease.
Data on viruses circulating so far indicate a good match with the current influenza vaccine. North American studies estimate high to moderate vaccine effectiveness, while a mid-season study from one Spanish region, Navarre, suggests lower effectiveness. This warrants further studies to understand the discrepancies.
Vaccination of high-risk groups and healthcare workers, in accordance with national guidelines, in countries that are still at an early stage in their influenza season remains the most effective way of reducing serious outcomes and transmission of the disease.