Surveillance report Open Access
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Influenza activity varied across Europe during the 2002-2003 season both in terms of the intensity of clinical activity and the circulating virus types/subtypes. Influenza B was generally predominant in the 'western' parts of Europe (Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and Ireland) and influenza A (H3N2) in the 'central' and 'eastern´ areas (Germany, Italy, Denmark, Switzerland, Poland, Slovenia, the Slovak Republic, the Netherlands). A number of countries experienced mixed seasons, first experiencing activity associated with influenza B and then with influenza A (Belgium, France and Spain). Generally, countries where influenza B was predominant had low (compared to historical data) levels of intensity (a mild season) and longer periods of influenza activity compared to countries where influenza A (H3N2) was predominant. A number of countries, all where influenza A (H3N2) was predominant, reported high levels of intensity compared to historical data: the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany and Poland. In the six countries where age-specific incidence rates were available, the highest rates were observed among those aged 0-14 years. The influenza virus strains circulating in Europe had a good match with the virus strains in the influenza vaccine. A small number of isolates (A/Fujian/411/2002 (H3N2)-like) were reported at the end of the season that had a reduced reactivity to anti-sera of the vaccine strain. The composition of the 2003-2004 influenza vaccine is the same as during the 2002-2003 season.


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