Surveillance and outbreak reports Open Access
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Standard sources of data for influenza surveillance include notifications of laboratory-confirmed cases and notifications from sentinel general practices. These data are not always available in a timely fashion, leading to proposals to use more immediate data sources such as over-the-counter drug sales, ambulance call-outs and web searches to monitor influenza-like illness (ILI). We aimed to assess data from a deputising medical service as another source of data for timely syndromic influenza surveillance. We measured the extent of agreement between the weekly percentage of patients with ILI reported from sentinel general practices and the corresponding weekly percentage reported from a deputising medical service in Victoria, Australia over ten years, from 1999 to 2008. There was good agreement between the two data sources, with suitably narrow limits of agreement. The deputising medical service did not use a standardised definition of ILI and is not supplemented by laboratory confirmation of suspected cases. Nevertheless, the results of this study show that such data can provide low cost and timely ILI surveillance.


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