Comparison between influenza coded primary care consultations and national influenza incidence obtained by the general practitioners sentinel network in Portugal from 2012 to 2017

Rosália Páscoa, Ana Paula Rodrigues, Susana Silva, Baltazar Nunes, Carlos Martins

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Abstract

Influenza is associated with severe illness, death, and economic burden. Sentinel surveillance systems have a central role in the community since they support public health interventions. This study aimed to describe and compare the influenza-coded primary care consultations with the reference index of influenza activity used in Portugal, General Practitioners Sentinel Network, from 2012 to 2017. An ecological time-series study was conducted using weekly R80-coded primary care consultations (according to the International Classification of Primary Care-2), weekly influenza-like illness (ILI) incidence rates from the General Practitioners Sentinel Network and Goldstein Index (GI). Good accordance between these three indicators was observed in the characterization of influenza activity regarding to start and length of the epidemic period, intensity of influenza activity, and influenza peak. A high correlation (>0.75) was obtained between weekly ILI incidence rates and weekly number of R80-coded primary care consultations during all five studied seasons. In 3 out of 5 seasons this correlation increased when weekly ILI incidence rates were multiplied for the percentage of influenza positive cases. A cross-correlation between weekly ILI incidence rates and the weekly number of R80-coded primary care consultations revealed that there was no lag between the rate curves of influenza incidence and the number of consultations in the 2012/ 13 and 2013/14 seasons. In the last three seasons, the weekly influenza incidence rates detected the influenza epidemic peak for about a week earlier. In the last season, the GI anticipated the detection of influenza peak for about a two-week period. Sentinel networks are fundamental elements in influenza surveillance that integrate clinical and virological data but often lack representativeness and are not able to provide regional and age groups estimates. Given the good correlation between weekly ILI incidence rate and weekly number of R80 consultations, primary care consultation coding system may be used to complement influenza surveillance data, namely, to monitor regional influenza activity. In the future, it would be interesting to analyse concurrent implementation of both surveillance systems with the integration of all available information.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0192681
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume13
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018

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