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Combined clinical and virological surveillance of influenza in winters of 1992 and 1993-4

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.311.7000.290 (Published 29 July 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:290
  1. D M Fleming, directora,
  2. P Chakraverty, clinical scientistb,
  3. P Litton, medical laboratory scientific officerb
  1. aBirmingham Research Unit, Royal College of General Practitioners, Harborne, Birmingham B17 9DB
  2. bPublic Health Laboratory Service, Central Public Health Laboratory, London NW9 5EQ
  1. Correspondence to: Dr Fleming.
  • Accepted 24 April 1995

Influenza is a major public health problem. Some cases occur every winter; there have been six substantial epidemics in the United Kingdom during the past 25 years; pandemics following major shifts in the influenza virus occur less frequently but are particularly severe.1

Most European countries support programmes of influenza surveillance.2 In some countries—for example, France,3 the Netherlands, and Portugal—clinical and virological surveillance is undertaken in sentinel practices that monitor the incidence of influenza and obtain specimens for virological examination in the major virological laboratories. In the United Kingdom the largest clinical surveillance network is the Royal College of General Practitioner's weekly returns service.4 Virological surveillance is based on the results of virological tests in patients admitted to hospital, with centralised reporting to the Public Health Laboratory Service.

Early identification of the organism responsible for epidemics of respiratory infection is important …

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