Limited specimen collection and testing for influenza occurred in the English and Dutch-speaking Caribbean countries prior to the 2009/2010 influenza pandemic. Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC) member countries rapidly mobilized to collect specimens during the pandemic and a vast majority of confirmed cases during the pandemic period were influenza A(H1N1)pdm09.
To describe the aetiology and distribution of acute respiratory illness (ARI) among laboratory confirmed cases during the first year after the 2009/2010 influenza pandemic in the English- and Dutch-speaking Caribbean.
In total, 774 specimens were tested and 394 (52.7%) cases had positive laboratory confirmation. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) (28.4%) and influenza A(H3N2) (23.1%) were most frequently detected. RSV activity peaked in July 2011 while influenza A(H3N2) peaked in October 2010. Influenza was responsible for illness in greater numbers in persons 15–64 years while RSV was seen in primarily in children <5 years and adults >65 years. Other agents confirmed include rhinovirus (12.9%), influenza B (10.9%) and influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 (9.4%).
RSV and influenza A(H3N2) were the most common viruses identified during the first year after the influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 pandemic. Influenza was detected every month with peak activity corresponding to that typically seen in North America (October to March). In order to determine the seasonality of influenza and RSV, laboratory data from subsequent years and increased specimen submission is needed.