Influenza Surveillance in Nine Consecutive Seasons, 2003-2012: Results from National Influenza Reference Laboratory, Istanbul Faculty of Medicine, Turkey
Ciblak, Meral Akcay
Tutenyurd, Melis Kanturvardar
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Influenza is a public health problem that affects 5-20% of the world population annually causing high morbidity and mortality especially in risk groups. In addition to determining prevention and treatment strategies with vaccines and antivirals, surveillance data plays an important role in combat against influenza. Surveillance provides valuable data on characteristics of influenza activity, on types, sub-types, antigenic properties and antiviral resistance profile of circulating viruses in a given region. The first influenza surveillance was initiated as a pilot study in 2003 by now named National Influenza Reference Laboratory, Istanbul Faculty of Medicine. Surveillance was launced at national level by Ministry of Health in 2004 and two National Influenza Laboratories, one in Istanbul and the other in Ankara, have been conducting surveillance in Turkey. Surveillance data obtained for nine consequtive years, 2003-2012, by National Influenza Reference Laboratory in Istanbul Faculty of Medicine have been summarized in this report. During 2003-2012 influenza surveillance seasons, a total of 11.077 nasal swabs collected in viral trantport medium were sent to the National Influenza Reference Laboratory, Istanbul for analysis. Immun-capture ELISA followed by MDCK cell culture was used for detection of influenza viruses before 2009 and real-time RT-PCR was used thereafter. Antigenic characterizations were done by hemagglutination inhibition assay with the reactives supplied by World Health Organization. Analysis of the results showed that influenza B viruses have entered the circulation in 2005-2006 seasons, and have contributed to the epidemics at increasing rates every year except in the 2009 pandemic season. Influenza B Victoria and Yamagata lineages were cocirculating for two seasons. For other seasons either lineage was in circulation. Antigenic characterization revealed that circulating B viruses matched the vaccine composition either partially or totally for only three seasons. Influenza A(H1N1) and A(H3N2) subtypes were in circulation since the beginning of the surveillance in 20032004 season either alone or in cocirculation. After the 2009 pandemic, A(H1N1) viruses were replaced by A(H1N1)pdm09. A(H1N1) and A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses matched the vaccine composition for all seasons. However, A(H3N2) viruses matched the vaccine composition in only three out of eight seasons. Analysis of the data revealed that, (a) influenza season has extended in Turkey and it lasts through May; (b) influenza peaks in different age groups depending on the season; (c) every year a different influenza type and subtype dominates the season; (d) influenza B has been circulating with increasing rate especially in the past six seasons. Influenza surveillance provides valuable data that can guide policy makers in developing programmes to prevent and reduce influenza burden. Therefore, addition of hospital based surveillance to general practice based sentinel surveillance will take influenza surveillance one step ahead in meeting the need for collecting data on severe influenza cases which will allow assesment of burden of influenza more reliably.
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