European flu rates creeping higher

Editorial Board

Editorial Board

February 6th, 2012

Editorial Board

The number of new cases of seasonal influenza in Europe continues to edge upwards, according to health protection authorities.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) says flu viruses have been slowly spreading across the continent throughout the winter season, with the number of confirmed cases rising since the beginning of December 2011.

However, the overall rate of reported cases is still rated as “low” in 23 of the 27 EU countries included in the agency’s latest flu surveillance paper.

Bulgaria, Iceland, Italy and Spain recorded higher rates of flu but these are still well within the range of what is expected during the height of flu season, according to the ECDC.

A moving target

There are several strains of the influenza virus circulating and causing illness in different regions throughout the year. The virus is constantly changing so our immune system must first recognize this new virus before mounting a defense. Therefore each year there is a different level of public health impact from one year to the next.

Seasonal influenza

Each flu season a network of experts collaborates on what they expect to be the three most common forms of flu virus circulating in the coming winter season. The strains identified by these experts make up the that years seasonal influenza vaccine.

Read how experts decide which flu viruses should be included in the vaccine

This year, so far, the dominant flu viruses are the A/H3N2 viruses and, to a lesser extent, the A/H1N1 virus which was responsible for the 2009 global flu pandemic.

Last year the number of new cases of influenza in Europe tapered off near the end of April, leading the ECDC to declare the end of the flu season in early May.

Read: Do you understand the flu?


  1. Ricardo


    March 2nd, 2012

    My five year old just had his ylaery flu shot on Friday (as well as several other vaccines at his 5 year well visit). We left the doc’s office around 10am and by 2pm he was complaining of a very sore throat. When I checked his temp a few hours later, he had one of about 100.5. I went into a panic knowing that kids are supposed to be healthy when they have their vaccinations. He didn’t complain of not feeling well at the doc appt. and when the doc did his well visit checkup, he didn’t mention anything not being right.I called the nurses line to ask if him not feeling well/temperature would hinder the efficacy of the vaccines he received that day. She said it was possible depending on the severity of his temperature. What are your views? I’m guessing that he was developing a cold but didn’t have any symptoms at the time of the shots. Do I need to worry that the shots aren’t going to do their job? I’m prone to worrying so any feedback would be helpful.P.S. His little sis had a temp the day before, so we rescheduled her flu shot for this week.VA:F [1.9.10_1130]please wait…

    • Gary Finnegan

      Gary Finnegan

      March 2nd, 2012

      Ricardo, I hope your son is feeling better. Your doctor is best placed to answer any concerns you have.