Bites

November 2009

Research

ASPREN surveillance system for influenza-like illness

A comparison with FluTracking and the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System

Volume 38, No.11, November 2009 Pages 932-936

Adriana Parrella

Craig B Dalton

Rodney Pearce

John Litt

Nigel Stocks

Background

General practitioners play an important role in the detection and clinical management of influenza. The Australian Sentinel Practice Research Network (ASPREN) has been collecting data from sentinel GPs on selected conditions, including influenza-like illness (ILI), since 1991 to inform public health authorities of communicable disease activity in the community.

Methods

Weekly incidence of ILI data reported by ASPREN GPs in 2007–2008 was compared with data from two separate surveillance systems: New South Wales data from FluTracking, an online self reporting ILI surveillance system; and national laboratory notifications of influenza reported to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System between 2003 and 2008.

Results

ASPREN recorded peak ILI rates of 47 per 1000 consultations in week 30 (ending 29 July) 2007 and 34 per 1000 consultations in week 36 (ending 7 September) 2008. Similar trends in incidence were seen in FluTracking cough and fever rates, ASPREN data in New South Wales and National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System laboratory notifications.

Discussion

Data captured by the three separate surveillance systems provide complementary information regarding influenza in the Australian population.

Public health surveillance systems are fundamental to the prevention and control of infectious diseases. Data obtained by sentinel surveillance systems may be used to inform public health decision making, priority setting and subsequent action.1

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Correspondence afp@racgp.org.au

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