Surveillance and outbreak reports Open Access
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Victoria was the first Australian state to report widespread transmission of pandemic H1N1 2009 influenza. Notifiable laboratory-confirmed influenza and a general practitioner sentinel surveillance system measuring influenza-like illness (ILI), including laboratory confirmation of influenza as the cause of ILI, were used to assess the pandemic. The pandemic influenza A(H1N1)v virus quickly became the dominant circulating strain and notification rates were highest in children and young adults. Despite a high number of notified cases, comparison of ILI rates suggested the season peaked in late June, was similar in magnitude to 2003 and 2007 and less severe than 1997. The majority of clinical presentations were mild, but one quarter of hospitalised cases required admission to intensive care. Given the low proportion of imported cases in the Victorian pandemic, the rapid increase in cases with no travel history and the low median age of cases notified during the phases of intense surveillance, we suggest there may have been silent importations of pandemic virus into Victoria before the first case was recognised. The usefulness of a general practitioner sentinel surveillance system to provide a comparable assessment of influenza and ILI activity over time was clearly demonstrated, and the need for similar hospital and mortality surveillance systems for influenza in Victoria was highlighted.


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