Using the Moving Epidemic Method (MEM) to develop influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) activity thresholds for syndromic surveillance.
PHE ePoster Library. Harcourt S. Sep 12, 2017; 186674; 189
Mrs. Sally Harcourt
Mrs. Sally Harcourt
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Abstract National European public health agencies have developed the Moving Epidemic Method (MEM) as a standardised approach to measure influenza activity. The method defines an epidemic threshold for influenza-like illness (ILI) in primary care, as well as thresholds for different levels of intensity (early-warning threshold; medium, high and very high intensity levels). We describe the development and testing of MEM thresholds for influenza activity and the novel application of MEM for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) using syndromic surveillance data. We applied these thresholds retrospectively to the 2015-16 season and evaluated prospectively the performance of these thresholds over winter 2016-17; compared them to thresholds generated for other public health surveillance systems and assessed whether these thresholds provide early warning of influenza and RSV activity. We applied MEM to GP Out-of-Hours (GPOOHSS) ILI (all-ages) consultation data and NHS 111 syndromic surveillance system cold/flu (all-ages) and fever (5-14yrs) calls to generate influenza thresholds. We used GPOOHSS bronchitis (<5yrs) consultations and NHS 111 cough (<5yrs) calls as the most specific syndromes for RSV thresholds. In 2016-17 NHS 111 cold/flu and GPOOHSS ILI pre-epidemic thresholds were breached in week 51 (approximately 4 weeks earlier than in 2015-16); medium thresholds were not breached. In 2016-17 the NHS 111 cough (<5yrs) and GPOOHSS bronchitis (<5yrs) medium thresholds were breached in week 46; similar to the previous year. We demonstrated that GPOOHSS and NHS 111 data can be used to generate MEM thresholds. These will be applied to national syndromic surveillance systems to enhance future seasonal surveillance.
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