Prevention and control of flu syndrome

In Italy, the integrated epidemiological surveillance activity of "Influenza Like Illnesses" (ILIs) and of serious and severe cases of flu is coordinated by the Department of Infectious Diseases (DMI) of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS ) thanks to the contribution of GPs, primary care paediatricians, hospital doctors and contact points at the local health authorities and Regions. It provides for the seasonal detection of ILIs through the network of sentinel physicians, Influnet, to which the Inter-University Centre for Research on Influenza (CIRI) in Genoa actively contributes.

As it does every year, the Ministry of Health has issued a circular containing recommendations for the prevention and control of seasonal influenza (Ministry of Health. Prevention and control of influenza: recommendations for the 2018-2019 season). This provides the data collected during the 2017-2018 season by the epidemiological and virological surveillance system for influenza, the recommendations for the 2018-2019 season, and the most recent WHO indications on the composition of flu vaccines.

The Region of Sardinia, aided by the microbiology laboratory of the Department of Biomedical Sciences of the University of Sassari (accredited by the ISS within the Influnet network) also took part in the epidemiological and virological surveillance of flu in the 2017-2018 season. This surveillance was coordinated with the Istituto Superiore della Sanità (ISS) and was based on the voluntary participation of sentinel physicians who monitored the cases of ILIs over 28 weeks (from week 42 of 2017 to week 17 of 2018). The data for the Region of Sardinia shows an incidence of cases which, while fairly low in the first weeks of monitoring in 2017 (from week 42), exponentially increased after the last week of 2017 (week 52) with values exceeding 9 cases per 1,000 population and reached the epidemic peak in the third week of 2018 with an incidence level equal to 15.7 cases per 1,000 population. It will be possible to monitor weekly the progress of ILIs in Italy and Sardinia by downloading the weekly report from the Influnet website.

In accordance with the WHO indications, the objectives of the anti-flu campaign aim to prevent severe forms and complications arising from flu, to reduce mortality in subjects at risk of ongoing complications and to alleviate direct and indirect social costs connected with hospitalisation, access to Accident and Emergency Departments, morbidity and mortality. In order to pursue the aforementioned objectives, the preventive measures recommended for the 2018-2019 season highlight the use of influenza vaccines, in addition to personal hygiene and protection measures useful for reducing the spread of the flu virus (with particular emphasis on hand hygiene).

In this section it will be possible to consult the circulars and recommendations regarding the 2018-2019 anti-flu campaign together with the data relating to the previous 2017-2018 season.

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