Flu 2013: Flu Update in Europe as of January 2013

On the second and third week of this year, the flu activity continued to rise in some parts of the northern hemisphere, and remained sporadic in the southern hemisphere. The A (H3N2) flu virus is pretty much a very dominant strain, which is then followed by the influenza B and even the A (H1N1) pdm09 viruses.

Influenza Activity in Europe
Flu activity in Europe has increased in variable proportion as the virus circulates throughout the region. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has seen increase in A(H1N1)pdm09 virus cases, this is from the central and eastern European region. A predominant strain (influenza B virus) were reported in few countries, while some countries also reports A(H3N2) viruses predominated

The flu virus is spreading across European region, from west to east, affecting at least 10 countries in the region, and report shows that numbers are still growing. Right now, there’s a widespread activity in the west and north, while sporadic to no activities in the east. The same way it did in flu season 2011/2012, the strains A(H1N1)pdm09, A(H3N2) and type B are showing signs of circulation, but they’re normally just mild cases. However, many elderly individuals with underlying health conditions have been affected severely by the virus, while fatalities have been recorded in younger patients.

As usual, in winter season, health care authorities all across Europe have warned citizens to prepare for an increase in cases of various respiratory conditions for both outpatient and hospitals all across the region.

Right now, at least 16 European countries have reported cases of influenza virus activity, much of these countries are in the northwestern part of the continent; this is according to the latest weekly surveillance report from the ECDC in Stockholm.

Data shows that the hardest hit of the virus is Norway. So far though, it’s the only nation in the continent that reports “high intensity” of fly transmission. A couple of weeks ago, about 12 countries, including France, Ireland and Germany, have reported moderate increase in the level of cases the last weeks of 2012, ECDC said.

Like in the United States, flu in Europe arrived very early this season. But experts say that although the flu activity is increasing, they don’t see it as worse than normal.

So far, 239 people have been hospitalized and were confirmed through lab tests as flu patients, this number is obviously expected to grow. It may be lower than the actual number of cases, since many people have had the virus didn’t end up in hospitals. Also, reports said there were two confirmed fatalities of the flue.

In US, the epidemic has stretched drastically, affecting 47 states and killing 20 children this season. However, the kind of strain circulating in Europe to day is different. The US’s predominant flu virus strain is Type A, while the predominant strain in Europe is Type B, which has 2 different sub-types. According to the new report, this season’s vaccine is better suited to the viruses circulating in Europe.

“The virological match with the strains in the current seasonal influenza vaccine is considered good,” the authors wrote.

But at the same time, parts of Europe are being gripped by norovirus, the severe gastrointestinal illness that also has spread across the United States and Canada.

In UK, the Health Protection Agency said that more than 3,800 cases have been confirmed through testing so far, that’s 70% increase over this time a year ago. Since many people have chosen to avoid going to hospitals, they experienced other symptoms through retching, such as acute diarrhea, and other sickness symptoms at home. Thus, it is believed that the true number of sickness is higher than the reported digits.