In France, the 2011-2012 influenza epidemic was characterized by the circulation of antigenically drifted influenza A(H3N2) viruses and by an increased disease severity and mortality among the elderly, with respect to the A(H1N1)pdm09 pandemic and post-pandemic outbreaks. Whether the epidemiology of influenza in France differed between the 2011-2012 epidemic and the previous outbreaks is unclear. Here, we analyse the age distribution of influenza like illness (ILI) cases attended in general practice during the 2011-2012 epidemic, and compare it with that of the twelve previous epidemic seasons. Influenza like illness data were obtained through a nationwide surveillance system based on sentinel general practitioners. Vaccine effectiveness was also estimated. The estimated number of ILI cases attended in general practice during the 2011-2012 was lower than that of the past twelve epidemics. The age distribution was characteristic of previous A(H3N2)-dominated outbreaks: school-age children were relatively spared compared to epidemics (co-)dominated by A(H1N1) and/or B viruses (including the 2009 pandemic and post-pandemic outbreaks), while the proportion of adults over 30 year-old was higher. The estimated vaccine effectiveness (54%, 95% CI (48, 60)) was in the lower range for A(H3N2) epidemics. In conclusion, the age distribution of ILI cases attended in general practice seems to be not different between the A(H3N2) pre-pandemic and post-pandemic epidemics. Future researches including a more important number of ILI epidemics and confirmed virological data of influenza and other respiratory pathogens are necessary to confirm these results. © 2013 Turbelin et al.
Turbelin, C., Souty, C., Pelat, C., Hanslik, T., Sarazin, M., Blanchon, T., & Falchi, A. (2013). Age Distribution of Influenza Like Illness Cases during Post-Pandemic A(H3N2): Comparison with the Twelve Previous Seasons, in France. PLoS ONE, 8(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0065919