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Across the World Health Organization European Region, there are few estimates of the proportion of people seeking medical care for influenza-like illness or acute respiratory infections and who have laboratory-confirmed seasonal influenza infection.


We conducted a meta-analysis of data extracted from studies published between 2004 and 2017 and from sentinel data from the European surveillance system (TESSy) between 2004 and 2018. We pooled within-season estimates by influenza type/subtype, setting (outpatient (OP)/inpatient (IP)) and age group to estimate the proportion of people tested who have laboratory-confirmed and medically-attended seasonal influenza in Europe.


In the literature review, the pooled proportion for all influenza types was 33% (95% confidence interval (CI): 30–36), higher among OP 36% (95% CI: 33–40) than IP 24% (95% CI: 20–29). Pooled estimates for all influenza types by age group were: 0–17 years, 26% (22–31); 18–64 years, 41% (32–50); ≥ 65 years, 33% (27–40). From TESSy data, 33% (31–34) of OP and 24% (21–27) of IP were positive. The highest proportion of influenza A was in people aged 18–64 years (22%, 16–29). By subtype, A(H1N1)pdm09 was highest in 18–64 year-olds (16%, 11–21%) whereas A(H3N2) was highest in those ≥ 65 years (10%, 2–22). For influenza B, the highest proportion of infections was in those aged 18–64 years (15%, 9–24).


Laboratory-confirmed influenza accounted for approximately one third of all acute respiratory infections for which medical care was sought during the influenza season.


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