Influenzanet is a system to monitor the activity of influenza-like-illness (ILI) with the aid of volunteers via the internet

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Developing the framework for an epidemic forecast infrastructure.

The Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) bundles all research-related EU initiatives.

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Participating countries and volunteers:

The Netherlands 12978
Belgium 4006
Portugal 1879
Italy 3515
Great Britain 5178
Sweden 0
Germany 105
Austria 28
Switzerland 35
France 5921
Spain 869
Ireland 498
Denmark 0
InfluenzaNet is a system to monitor the activity of influenza-like-illness (ILI) with the aid of volunteers via the internet. It has been operational in The Netherlands and Belgium (since 2003), Portugal (since 2005) and Italy (since 2008), and the current objective is to implement InfluenzaNet in more European countries.

In contrast with the traditional system of sentinel networks of mainly primary care physicians coordinated by the European Influenza Surveillance Scheme (EISS), InfluenzaNet obtains its data directly from the population. This creates a fast and flexible monitoring system whose uniformity allows for direct comparison of ILI rates between countries.

Any resident of a country where InfluenzaNet is implemented can participate by completing an online application form, which contains various medical, geographic and behavioural questions. Participants are reminded weekly to report any symptoms they have experienced since their last visit. The incidence of ILI is determined on the basis of a uniform case definition.

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Keep checking here to see findings from this year's Flusurvey.

Results of this year's Flusurvey

Below you can see what influenced Flusurvey participant's chances of reporting a flu-like illness for the 2013-2014 flu season. Factors in green were protective against flu-like illness.  Factors in red increased the risk. Factors in blue showed no association with reporting a flu-like illness.

Above you can see the weekly incidence reported by Flusurvey.  Last week (week twenty one) reports of flu-like illness remained low in all age groups, although slightly increased from the week before.  It is still looking like we managed to avoid a bad flu season this year!

Will it be a bad flu year?

So far this year there has been very little flu around.  Here you can track how much flu-like illness our participants are reporting this year compared to last year.  It looks like we had a very mild season this year.

Where do Flusurvey participants come from?

The figure below shows where Flusurvey participants are based. London, the South, and the East are well represented, but we would like to get a larger proportion from the North, Scotland and Wales.  We'd also like to have more children involved, please tell your friends!

In the twenty first week of this year's flu season, rates of flu-like illness were low.  The highest rates of flu like illness were in the Southwest,  East Midlands, and Scotland. This week there were almost no cases in Wales.  This week there were few reports from the Northeast so it is difficult to say what is going on there.

This figure shows the proportion of Flusurvey participants positive for a flu-like illness in the 2012-2013 flu season who sought care from a health professional.  Blue bars represent participants that visited a health professional, red lines participants who either visited a health professional or called a help line.

Weekly incidence of flu-like illness last year (2012-2013 flu season)

Weekly Incidence by age

This figure shows the pattern of flu-like illness reported by last year's Flusurvey participants. The grey shading shows the school holidays. Over the season you can see the peaks in illness, and the effect that school holidays had on stopping the epidemic. The bottom graph shows % positivity of cases of lab confirmed flu (data provided by the Respiratory DataMart System is a laboratory surveillance tool to monitor influenza and other respiratory viruses based on collated lab results from a network of Public Health England (PHE) and NHS laboratories in England. Respiratory swabs from primary and secondary care are tested for a variety of viruses using real time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assays. Weekly results are published in the PHE National Influenza Report /)

Most common symptoms from last year's Flusurvey

Above you can see the most frequently reported symptoms last year. The word cloud shows that runny noses and coughs were the commonest symptoms. Fortunately for Flusurvey users, vomiting and chest pain were rarely reported.

Public Transport

These results show that there was no increased chance of reporting a flu-like illness in participants who took public transport as compared to participants who did not take public transport.  This finding was the same all across Europe.

Manflu - a myth!

The figure below shows the distribution of reported health scores in healthy participants, participants with colds, and participants with influenza-like illness (ILI). Scores reported by men are in blue, by women in pink. It's clear that people with ILI report lower health than people with cold symptoms or no symptoms, but the scores are not noticeably different for men and women. We haven't found any evidence that men are likely to report feeling worse when they're ill; if anything, women seem to report lower health scores.