Original Article: A composite epidemic curve for seasonal influenza in Canada with an international comparison
Article first published online: 17 AUG 2010
© 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses
Volume 4, Issue 5, pages 295–306, September 2010
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How to Cite
Schanzer, D. L., Langley, J. M., Dummer, T., Viboud, C. and Tam, T. W. S. (2010), Original Article: A composite epidemic curve for seasonal influenza in Canada with an international comparison. Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses, 4: 295–306. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-2659.2010.00154.x
- Issue published online: 17 AUG 2010
- Article first published online: 17 AUG 2010
- Accepted 10 June 2010. Published Online 18 August 2010.
- Empirical epidemic curve;
- transmission dynamics
Please cite this paper as: Schanzer et al. (2010) A composite epidemic curve for seasonal influenza in Canada with an international comparison. Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses 4(5), 295–306.
Background Empirical data on laboratory-confirmed seasonal influenza is limited by very low and possibly non-systematic case ascertainment as well as geographical variation.
Objective To provide a visual representation of an influenza epidemic at the community and regional level using empirical data and to describe the epidemic characteristics.
Methods Weekly influenza A confirmations were obtained from the Canadian FluWatch program and American FluView program for the 1997/1998–2006/2007 seasons; 1- year data were also available for Europe (FluNet, WHO). For seasons where at least 80% of the influenza A strains were antigenically similar, a composite epidemic curve was created by centring the local epidemics relative to their epidemic midpoint.
Results The range in timing of the regional peaks varied from 5 to 13 weeks. Once the epidemic curves were centred relative to their peak, the composite epidemic curves were similar for Canada, the United States and Europe, and the epidemic growth rates were similar for most subgroups (city size; regions; H1N1 versus H3N2 seasons). During the exponential growth period, the number of cases increased by a factor of 1·5–2·0 per week, averaging 1·8. Exponential growth was evident approximately 10 weeks before the peak. Evidence of sustained transmission occurred from mid-September to early June.
Discussion The shape of the composite curve created in this study clearly demonstrates a consistency in the epidemic pattern across geographically disparate locales. Laboratory confirmation will likely play an increasing role in the development of better methods for early detection and summary measures of influenza activity.