Annual meeting of the European Influenza Surveillance Network, 2015

10 Jun 2015 - 12 Jun 2015

The ECDC annual meeting of the European Influenza Surveillance Network (EISN) prepared in collaboration with the EISN Coordination Committee, brought together epidemiological and virological surveillance contact points and representatives from reference laboratories from the 31 EU/EEA Member States as well as participants from EU pre-accession countries, Eastern European Neighbourhood Policy partner countries, the WHO Regional Office for Europe, and involved international institutions.

The meeting focused on new developments in influenza surveillance and in seasonal influenza vaccination programmes. It served as a forum for analyzing prevalence of A(H3N2) and B drifted viruses and their consequences, and provided an update with regard to outbreaks of avian influenza and other emerging respiratory pathogens around the world. A presentation was also given on global infectious disease governance, and its previous and expected alterations.

The 2014-15 season had seen a large dominance of A(H3N2) in almost all countries and an increasing dominance of B viruses when A(H3N2) declined. There had also been antigenic and genetic drift of A(H3N2) that resulted in antigenic properties dissimilar to the 2014–2015 vaccine virus and very low vaccine effectiveness. Overall the season had been severe.

  • It was agreed that a common tool to assess influenza severity in seasonal influenza epidemics should be used, either the WHO Pandemic Influenza Severity Assessment (PISA) tool or an adaptation of it. Additionally, there was broad agreement that RSV surveillance will be required to document the impact of RSV vaccines that are being developed.
  • There was also overall agreement that strain-based influenza reporting should continue where established, and that weekly collection of aggregated data on influenza isolated specimens was not necessary. Furthermore, there was strong support for the development of on-line learning materials for laboratory techniques.

It was noted that highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreaks of H5N1 and H5N8 had occurred in the WHO European Region, an important increase of human H5N1 cases was observed in Egypt during the last half-year, and an increased endemicity of H7N9 in poultry in China with an increasing number of human cases. Therefore preparedness of veterinary and public health authorities would be required.