Objectives: To estimate the burden of influenza in England and Wales, in terms of general practice consultations, hospital admissions and deaths. Methods: Multivariable regression was used to estimate the influenza attributable fraction of general practice consultations recorded in the general practice research database, of hospital admissions from hospital episode statistics and of deaths recorded by the Office of National Statistics. Results: An estimated 779,000 (95%CI ± 258,000)-1,164,000 (95%CI ± 425,000) general practice consultations, 19,000 (95%CI ± 5000)-31,200 (95%CI ± 11,000) hospital admissions and 18,500 (95%CI 2500)-24,800 (95%CI ± 2500) deaths annually are attributable to influenza infections. In primary care, the bulk of the burden falls on those under the age of 45, whereas the elderly are more likely to be hospitalised and to die. Conclusions: Although there are significant uncertainties, and considerable year on year variations, it is clear that the burden of influenza is considerable. Although much of this burden falls on the elderly, significant numbers of general practice consultations, hospitalisations and even some deaths occur annually in children in England and Wales. © 2006 The British Infection Society.
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