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Epidemiology and diagnosis of epidemic and avian influenza in Australia

Abstract number: 1732_226

Baleriola C., Stelzer S., Escott R., Kirkland P., Robertson P., Rawlinson W.

Influenza activity in temperate regions of Australia typically occurs between May and September, whereas in tropical regions influenza can occur any time throughout the year.

The main purpose of this presentation is to outline the epidemiology of human influenza during 2001–2006 in NSW. The second purpose is to report a quality assurance programme for laboratory diagnosis of influenza throughout Australia, including avian influenza.

Epidemiological data from NSW, Prince of Wales Hospital (Sydney) shows that Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the first respiratory virus emerging in the winter season. Influenza A infections typically last for 4–5 weeks during August and September. Infections with other respiratory viruses such as Parainfluenza virus 3 and human metapneumovirus occur from June to late November and December. Summary data from the last 5 years will be presented.

Influenza data from 2001 to 2006 indicate that the first ones affected early in the season are children and young adults, whereas during peak season the majority are between 20 and 50 years of age. There is an even distribution between the number of influenza attacks among males and females (51% and 49% respectively). From a total of 500 specimens tested for respiratory viruses during 2001–2006, 51% were true influenza cases, 10% RSV and 17% rhinovirus. Data collected from the Prince of Wales Hospital is submitted on a weekly basis to the New South Wales Department of Health as part of the NSW Influenza Surveillance Program.

During 2006 we have undertaken a Quality Assurance Program aiming to improve detection and diagnosis of HPAI H5N1 among Australian and Asian Laboratories in collaboration with the Royal College of Pathologists Australia (RCPA) and the Elizabeth MacArthur Agricultural Institute, integrating human and veterinary health laboratories. The project assesses H5 diagnosis accuracy using serological and molecular techniques, utilising a new avian influenza module within the Serology Quality Assurance Program (SQAP). The report from the first Nucleic acid testing panel is already available to the 30 participant laboratories. The results suggest that testing laboratories around Australia and Asia generally utilise accurate and sensitive methods for detection of H5N1, although some laboratories are only testing for Influenza A and are currently not performing specific H5N1 tests.

Session Details

Date: 31/03/2007
Time: 00:00-00:00
Session name: European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
Subject:
Location: ICC, Munich, Germany
Presentation type:
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