General practice out-of-hours service in Ireland provides a new source of syndromic surveillance data on influenza.
AffiliationDepartment of Public Health, Health Service Executive Dublin North East, Navan, County Meath, Ireland. firstname.lastname@example.org
Local subject classificationPUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENT
HEALTH SERVICE PLANNING
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CitationGeneral practice out-of-hours service in Ireland provides a new source of syndromic surveillance data on influenza. 2010, 15 (31) Euro Surveill.
JournalEuro surveillance : bulletin européen sur les maladies transmissibles = European communicable disease bulletin
AbstractThe use of routinely available electronic sources of healthcare data on the spread of influenza has the potential to enhance current surveillance activities. This study aimed to develop a method for identifying influenza-related records from general practitioner(GP) out-of-hours (OOH) services in Ireland. Data from one such service were interrogated for keywords relating to influenza-like illness (ILI) and a proxy measure of influenza activity in the community setting was developed. Comparison of this syndromic surveillance measure with national data on ILI consultation rates demonstrated a statistically significant temporal correlation.In five out of six influenza seasons investigated,peaks in the GP OOH influenza-related calls appeared at least one week ahead of peaks in the national ILI consultation rates. The method described in this paper has been extended to nine OOH services in Ireland (covering 70% of the Irish population) to provide weekly figures on self-reported illness for influenza in the community and its data have been incorporated into the national weekly influenza reports produced by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre. These data should provide early warnings of both seasonal and pandemic influenza in Ireland.
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