Hong Kong, which saw a relatively mild winter flu season last year - followed by an unusually severe H3N2 summer flu (see chart above) - entered back into their 2018 winter flu epidemic a little over a week ago, this time with influenza B leading the charge.
Although Influenza B is generally regarded as being less severe than Influenza A, it can still exact a heavy toll, particularly on small children and the elderly.Today the HK CHP released their week 2 Flu Express report, and it shows increasing flu activity. During week 2 and the first 4 days of week 3 (January 7th - 18th), Hong Kong has seen 24 flu deaths, including 1 pediatric fatality.
Flu Express is a weekly report produced by the Respiratory Disease Office of the Centre for Health Protection. It monitors and summarizes the latest local and global influenza activities.
Local Situation of Influenza Activity (as of Jan 17, 2018)
Reporting period: Jan 7 – 13, 2018 (Week 2)
- The latest surveillance data showed that the local influenza activity continued to increase. Currently the predominating virus is influenza B.
- Influenza can cause serious illnesses in high-risk individuals and even healthy persons. Given that seasonal influenza vaccines are safe and effective, all persons aged 6 months or above except those with known contraindications are recommended to receive influenza vaccine to protect themselves against seasonal influenza and its complications, as well as related hospitalisations and deaths.
- Apart from adopting personal, hand and environmental hygiene practices against respiratory illnesses, those members of the public who have not received influenza vaccine are urged to get vaccinated as soon as possible for personal protection.
- The Vaccination Subsidy Scheme (VSS) and the Government Vaccination Programme (GVP) for the 2017/18 season have been launched on Oct 18 and Oct 25, 2017 respectively. The VSS continues to provide subsidised vaccination to children aged 6 months to under 12 years, elderly aged 65 years or above, pregnant women, persons with intellectual disabilities and recipients of Disability Allowance. Eligible groups for free vaccination are the same as those of 2016/17 under the GVP. For more details, please refer to the webpage
Since the start of the 2017/18 winter influenza season in week 2, 41 adult cases of ICU admission/death with laboratory confirmation of influenza were recorded, in which 23 of them were fatal (as of January 17). Among them, 34 patients had infection with influenza B, 5 patients with influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, one patient with influenza A(H3N2) and one patient with influenza A pending subtype.(SNIP)
In week 2 and the first 4 days of week 3 (Jan 14 to 17), there were three cases of severe paediatric influenza-associated complication/death, in which one of them was fatal.
Global Situation of Influenza Activity
- In Mainland China (week ending Jan 7, 2018), the influenza activity in both southern and northern provinces was at the seasonal level for winter influenza season, and was still on an increasing trend. In southern provinces, the proportion of ILI cases in emergency and outpatient departments reported by sentinel hospitals was 6.0%, higher than that reported in the previous week (5.5%) and that in the corresponding period in 2014-2016 (3.0%, 3.2%, 3.3%). In northern provinces, that proportion was 5.8%, higher than that reported in the previous week (5.5%) and that in the corresponding period in 2014-2016 (4.1%, 2.9%, 3.8%). The proportion of influenza detections in the week ending January 7, 2018 was 44.8%. The most common influenza virus detected currently was influenza B.
- In Macau (week ending Jan 6, 2018), the proportions of ILI cases in emergency departments among both adults and children increased. The proportion of influenza detections was 32.2%, an marked increase from 17.0% in the previous week.
- Taiwan (week ending Jan 13, 2018) was at influenza season. In the week ending January 13, the proportion of ILI cases in emergency department was 13.18% which was above the threshold of 11.4%. The predominating virus was influenza B.
- In Japan (week ending Jan 7, 2018), the influenza season has started in late November 2017. The average number of reported ILI cases per sentinel site slightly decreased to 16.31 in the week ending January 7, 2018, which was higher than the baseline level of 1.00. The most frequently identified influenza virus type in the past five weeks was influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, followed by influenza B and A(H3N2).