Influenza comes to Europe every winter, but its impact and timing varies by year. The latest edition of the Weekly Influenza Surveillance Overview shows that, at this point, Europe is still reporting low influenza activity. However, the proportion of positive tests for influenza virus at the sentinel sites has increased since the early weeks of the season. Fourteen European countries are reporting sporadic spread of influenza, indicating that the influenza season is coming.
The flu has to be taken seriously – each year, around 10% of us are infected, and influenza-related complications cause hundreds of thousands of hospitalisations all across Europe. Young children and older people as well as those with chronic conditions suffer the most, but even perfectly healthy young people are at risk of developing serious complications, such as pneumonia, myocarditis, encephalitis, or even death. Watch the new ECDC video on influenza, explaining how to reduce the risk of getting influenza or transmitting it to others.
ECDC Director Marc Sprenger reminds us, ‘Many people, especially those in risk groups – young children, older people and those with chronic conditions – suffer as a consequence of influenza every year. All of us should do whatever we can to reduce or avoid this suffering. The single most effective way to fight influenza is to prevent it by getting vaccinated – this will protect you as well as those around you.
‘I would like to stress that all Europeans who are recommended to have the influenza vaccine by their national authorities should get vaccinated as soon as possible. It is not too late, as the season is only about to start. Influenza vaccination is of particular importance for those in the recognised risk groups and for healthcare workers, as it protects their vulnerable patients as well as themselves.’
ECDC will continue to monitor and report influenza activity in Europe on weekly basis throughout the season.