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Home Eurosurveillance Weekly Release  2003: Volume 7/ Issue 40 Article 2
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Eurosurveillance, Volume 7, Issue 40, 02 October 2003

Citation style for this article: Fitzgerald M. Ireland’s influenza season 2003/2004 begins with outbreak in Dublin. Euro Surveill. 2003;7(40):pii=2304. Available online:

Ireland’s influenza season 2003/2004 begins with outbreak in Dublin

Margaret Fitzgerald (, Eastern Regional Health Authority, Dublin, Ireland

At the end of the second week of September a secondary school in Dublin reported that several students were ill with an influenza-like illness. The school has more than 300 pupils, the majority of whom are boarding pupils. The first case had onset of illness on 7 September. The patient had returned from the United Kingdom four days previously*. Over the next 10 days, other pupils developed a similar illness. The symptoms were mainly high fever (39°C), headache and sore throat. One pupil was admitted to hospital with fever and abdominal pain. In total, 81 pupils and one staff member were ill. The student attack rate was 26%.

Nine throat swabs were sent for bacteriological and viral culture. Influenza A (H3N2) has been identified by the National Virus Reference Laboratory in four of the specimens. Investigations are ongoing to determine if the virus strain identified is similar to that in the 2003/2004 influenza vaccine. These are the first confirmed cases of influenza in Ireland this season.

Until now, only isolated cases of influenza, in two countries, have been reported to the European Influenza Surveillance Scheme (EISS, The report from Ireland is the first report of an influenza outbreak (that is, the occurrence of a localized cluster of cases) in Europe this season.

EISS will begin publishing its seasonal Weekly Electronic Bulletin on 17 October.

*Correction from the authors, 3 October 2003: The index case was in the United Kingdom (UK) prior to returning to school and not in Asia as previously reported. As the onset of illness was reported to be four days after returning to school it is more likely that the flu was picked up locally. The three other laboratory confirmed cases were also based either in Ireland or the UK over the summer.


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