FluWatch report: February 26, 2017 – March 4, 2017 (week 9)
- Overall, the decline in influenza activity in Canada has been slow compared to previous seasons. Many parts of Canada are still reporting elevated activity in week 09.
- Widespread or localized influenza activity was reported in 29 regions across 11 provinces.
- In week 09, laboratory detections, influenza-like illness, outbreaks and hospitalizations from participating provinces and territories and sentinel networks decreased from the previous week.
- Influenza B activity in Canada is slowly increasing but remain below what has been observed in previous seasons.
- A(H3N2) continues to be the most common type of influenza affecting Canadians.
- The majority of laboratory detections, hospitalizations and deaths have been among adults aged 65+ years.
- For more information on the flu, see our Flu(influenza) web page.
On this page
- Influenza/ILI Activity (geographic spread)
- Laboratory Confirmed Influenza Detections
- Syndromic/Influenza-like Illness Surveillance
- Influenza Outbreak Surveillance
- Provincial/Territorial Influenza Hospitalizations and Deaths
- Sentinel Hospital Influenza Surveillance
- Influenza Strain Characterizations
- Antiviral Resistance
- Provincial and International Influenza Reports
- FluWatch definitions for the 2016-2017 season
Influenza/Influenza-like Illness Activity (geographic spread)
In week 09, two regions (one each in NB and NT) reported no influenza or influenza-like illness activity. Sporadic influenza activity was reported in 22 regions across 10 provinces and territories. Localized activity was reported in 25 regions across nine provinces. Widespread activity was reported in four regions (PE, two in BC and one in QC). For more details on a specific region, click on the map.
Laboratory Confirmed Influenza Detections
In week 09, the number of positive tests (2,072) and the percentage of tests positive for influenza (22%) decreased from the previous week. Peak influenza detections occurred in week 02 at 27%. After a decline from the peak in week 03, detections have remained relatively stable (ranging from 22% to 25% in weeks 03 to 09). Influenza A continues to account for the majority of detections; however, influenza B detections have been steadily increasing for the past few weeks. Influenza B activity is very low compared to the same time period in the previous two seasons. For data on other respiratory virus detections, see the Respiratory Virus Detections in Canada Report on the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) website.
Figure 2 – Number of positive influenza tests and percentage of tests positive, by type, subtype and report week, Canada, 2016-17, week 9
The shaded area indicates weeks where the positivity rate was at least 5% and a minimum of 15 positive tests were observed, signalling the start and end of seasonal influenza activity.
To date, 29,910 laboratory confirmed influenza detections have been reported, of which 97% have been influenza A. Influenza A(H3N2) is the most common subtype detected. For more detailed weekly and cumulative influenza data, see the text descriptions for Figures 2 and 3 or the Respiratory Virus Detections in Canada Report.
Figure 3 – Cumulative numbers of positive influenza specimens by type/subtype and province/territory, Canada, 2016-17, week 9
To date, detailed information on age and type/subtype has been received for 20,914 laboratory-confirmed influenza cases (Table 1). Among cases with reported age and type/subtype information, adults aged 65+ accounted for almost half of the reported influenza cases. Among cases of influenza A(H3N2), adults aged 65+ represented 46% of cases, followed by adults aged 20-64 (33% of cases). In the previous influenza A(H3N2)-predominant season in 2014-15, adults aged 65+ represented 59% of cases and adults aged 20-64 represented 26% of cases.
|Age groups (years)||Weekly (February 26 to March 4, 2017)||Cumulative (August 28, 2016 to March 4, 2017)|
|Influenza A||B||Influenza A||B||Influenza A and B|
|A Total||A(H1) pdm09||A(H3)||ATable 1 - Footnote UnS||Total||A Total||A(H1) pdm09||A(H3)||ATable 1 - Footnote UnS||Total||#||%|
|PercentageTable 1 - Footnote 2||92%||0%||15%||85%||8%||97%||0%||49%||51%||3%|
Syndromic/Influenza-like Illness Surveillance
Healthcare Professionals Sentinel Syndromic Surveillance
In week 09, 1.8% of visits to healthcare professionals were due to influenza-like illness, down from 2.2% in the previous week.
Figure 4 - Percentage of visits for ILI reported by sentinels by report week, Canada, 2016-17, week 9
Number of Sentinels Reporting Week 09: 109
Delays in the reporting of data may cause data to change retrospectively. In BC, AB, and SK, data are compiled by a provincial sentinel surveillance program for reporting to FluWatch. Not all sentinel physicians report every week.
Are you a primary healthcare practitioner (General Practitioner, Nurse Practitioner or Registered Nurse) interested in becoming a FluWatch sentinel?
Please visit our Influenza Sentinel page for more details.
Influenza Outbreak Surveillance
In week 09, 43 laboratory confirmed influenza outbreaks were reported (18 less than the previous week). Among the reported outbreaks: 30 were in long-term care (LTC) facilities, four in hospitals and nine in institutional or community (other) settings. Of the outbreaks with known strains or subtypes, 11 were due to influenza A(H3N2), 15 were due to influenza A(UnS) and one outbreak was due to influenza B. An additional outbreak due to ILI was reported in a school.
To date this season, 902 outbreaks have been reported and the majority (67%) have occurred in LTC facilities. Compared to the same period in the most recent previous A(H3N2) predominant season (2014-15), 1,436 outbreaks were reported, of which 74% occurred in LTC facilities.
Figure 5 - Text Description
|Report week||Hospitals||Long Term Care Facilities||Other|
Provincial/Territorial Influenza Hospitalizations and Deaths
In week 09, 225 influenza-associated hospitalizations were reported by participating provinces and territories, down slightly from 245 reported in the previous week*. Influenza A accounted for 90% of hospitalizations. The weekly percentage of hospitalizations due to influenza B has been steadily increasing for the past few weeks. The largest proportion of hospitalizations were among adults aged 65+ (67%). A total of nine intensive care unit (ICU) admissions and 15 deaths were reported in week 09.
To date this season, 4,556 hospitalizations have been reported, of which 98% were due to influenza A. Among cases for which the subtype of influenza A was reported, almost all (2517/2527) were influenza A(H3N2). Adults 65+ accounted for 69% of the hospitalizations. A total of 168 ICU admissions and 206 deaths have been reported. The majority of deaths were reported in adults aged 65+ years.
|Age Groups (years)||Cumulative (August 28, 2016 to March 4 2017)|
|Influenza A Total||Influenza B Total||Total [# (%)]||Influenza A and B Total||%||Influenza A and B Total||%|
Note: Influenza-associated hospitalizations are not reported to PHAC by: BC, NU, and QC. Only hospitalizations that require intensive medical care are reported by SK. ICU admissions
x Supressed to prevent residual disclosure
Sentinel Hospital Influenza Surveillance
Pediatric Influenza Hospitalizations and Deaths
In week 09, 14 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated pediatric (≤16 years of age) hospitalizations were reported by the Immunization Monitoring Program Active (IMPACT) network. All but two cases were due to influenza A. The number of hospitalizations reported in week 05 is below the six year average for the same time period (Figure 7).
To date this season, 421 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated pediatric hospitalizations were reported by the IMPACT network. Children aged 0-23 months accounted for approximately 41% of hospitalizations. Influenza A accounted for 93% (n=386) of the reported hospitalizations, of which 36% (n=138) were influenza A(H3N2) and the remainder were A(UnS). Additionally, 66 intensive care unit (ICU) admissions have been reported. Children aged 0-23 months accounted for 30% of ICU cases followed by children aged 10-16 (26%). A total of 43 ICU cases reported at least one underlying condition or comorbidity. Less than five deaths have been reported this season.
Figure 6 - Cumulative numbers of pediatric hospitalizations (≤16 years of age) with influenza by type and age-group reported by the IMPACT network, Canada, 2016-17, week 9
Figure 6 - Text Description
Figure 7 – Number of pediatric hospitalizations (≤16 years of age) with influenza reported by the IMPACT network, by week, Canada, 2016-17, week 9
The shaded area represents the maximum and minimum number of cases reported by week from seasons 2010-11 to 2015-16.
The number of hospitalizations reported through IMPACT represents a subset of all influenza-associated pediatric and adult hospitalizations in Canada. Delays in the reporting of data may cause data to change retrospectively.
Figure 7 - Text Description
Adult Influenza Hospitalizations and Deaths
In week 09, 48 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated adult (≥20 years of age) hospitalizations were reported by the Canadian Immunization Research Network (CIRN). All but two cases were due to influenza A and the majority of cases (81%) occurred in adults aged 65+. The number of hospitalizations reported weekly by CIRN have been consistently declining since week 07.
To date this season, 1,100 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated adult (≥20 years of age) hospitalizations have been reported by CIRN. Influenza A accounted for 99% of hospitalizations. Adults aged 65+ accounted for 78% of hospitalizations. To date, 66 intensive care unit (ICU) admissions have been reported. A total of 42 ICU cases reported at least one underlying condition or comorbidity. The median age of patients admitted to the ICU was 68 years. Approximately 45 deaths have been reported this season, the majority in adults aged 65+. The median age of reported deaths was 85 years.
Figure 8 - Cumulative numbers of adult hospitalizations (≥20 years of age) with influenza by type and age-group reported by CIRN, Canada, 2016-17, week 9
Figure 9 – Percentage of hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths with influenza by age-group (≥20 years of age) reported by CIRN, Canada 2016-17, week 9
The number of hospitalizations reported through CIRN represents a subset of all influenza-associated adult hospitalizations in Canada. Delays in the reporting of data may cause data to change retrospectively.
Influenza Strain Characterizations
During the 2016-17 influenza season, the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) has characterized 1,075 influenza viruses [969 A(H3N2), 25 A(H1N1), 81 influenza B]. All but one influenza A virus (n=993) and 32 influenza B viruses characterized were antigentically or genetically similar to the vaccine strains included in both the trivalent and quadrivalent vaccines. Forty-nine influenza B viruses were similar to the strain which is only included in the quadrivalent vaccine.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has released the recommended composition of the influenza vaccine for use in the 2017-2018 northern hemisphere influenza season. Trivalent vaccines are recommended to contain: 1) an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus; 2) an A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)-like virus; and 3) a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus (Victoria lineage). Quadrivalent vaccines are recommended to contain the above three viruses and a B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus (Yamagata lineage).
|Strain Characterization ResultsTable 3 - Footnote 1||Count||Description|
|Influenza A (H3N2)|
|285||Viruses antigenically similar to A/Hong Kong/4801/2014, the A(H3N2) component of the 2016-17 Northern Hemisphere's trivalent and quadrivalent vaccine.|
|GeneticallyTable 3 - Footnote 2
Viruses belonging to genetic group 3C.2a. A/Hong Kong/4801/2014-like virus belongs to genetic group 3C.2a and is the influenza A(H3N2) component of the 2016-17 Northern Hemisphere's trivalent and quadrivalent vaccine.
Additionally, genetic characterization of the 285 influenza A (H3N2) viruses that underwent HI testing determined that 240 viruses belonged to genetic group 3C. 2a and 38 viruses belonged to genetic group 3C.3a. Sequencing is pending for the remaining 7 isolates. The majority of viruses belonging to genetic group 3C. 3a are inhibited by antisera raised against A/Hong Kong/4801/2014Table 3 - Footnote 3.
A/Indiana/10/2011-likeTable 3 - Footnote 4
Viruses antigenically similar to A/Indiana/10/2011, a candidate H3N2v vaccine virus.
|Influenza A (H1N1)|
|A/California/7/2009-like||25||Viruses antigenically similar to A/California/7/2009, the A(H1N1) component of the 2016-17 Northern Hemisphere's trivalent and quadrivalent vaccine influenza vaccine.|
|32||Viruses antigenically similar to B/Brisbane/60/2008, the influenza B component of the 2016-17 Northern Hemisphere's trivalent and quadrivalent influenza vaccine|
|49||Viruses antigenically similar to B/Phuket/3073/2013, the additional influenza B component of the 2016-17 Northern Hemisphere quadrivalent influenza vaccine.|
During the 2016-17 season, the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) has tested 562 influenza viruses for resistance to oseltamivir and zanamivir and 158 influenza viruses for resistance to amantadine. All but one influenza A(H3N2) virus were sensitive to oseltamivir and all viruses were sensitive to zanamivir. All 158 influenza A viruses were resistant to amantadine (Table 4).
|Virus type and subtype||Oseltamivir||Zanamivir||Amantadine|
|# tested||# resistant (%)||# tested||# resistant (%)||# tested||# resistant (%)|
|A (H3N2)||548||1 (0.2%)||548||0 (0%)||148||148 (100%)|
|A (H3N2v)||1||0 (0%)||1||0 (0%)||1||1 (100%)|
|A (H1N1)||22||0 (0%)||21||0 (0%)||20||20 (100%)|
|B||68||0 (0%)||69||0 (0%)||N/ATable 4 - Footnote *||N/ATable 4 - Footnote *|
|TOTAL||639||1 (0.2%)||639||0 (0%)||169||169 (100%)|
Provincial and International Influenza Reports
- World Health Organization influenza update
- World Health Organization FluNet
- WHO Influenza at the human-animal interface
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention seasonal influenza report
- European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control - epidemiological data
- South Africa Influenza surveillance report
- New Zealand Public Health Surveillance
- Australia Influenza Report
- Pan-American Health Organization Influenza Situation Report
- Alberta Health - Influenza Surveillance Report
- BC - Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) - Influenza Surveillance
- New Brunswick - Influenza Surveillance Reports
- Newfoundland and Labrador - Surveillance and Disease Reports
- Nova Scotia - Flu Information
- Public Health Ontario - Ontario Respiratory Pathogen Bulletin
- Quebec - Système de surveillance de la grippe
- Manitoba - Epidemiology and Surveillance - Influenza Reports
- Saskatchewan - influenza Reports
- PEI - Influenza Summary
FluWatch definitions for the 2016-2017 season
Abbreviations: Newfoundland/Labrador (NL), Prince Edward Island (PE), New Brunswick (NB), Nova Scotia (NS), Quebec (QC), Ontario (ON), Manitoba (MB), Saskatchewan (SK), Alberta (AB), British Columbia (BC), Yukon (YT), Northwest Territories (NT), Nunavut (NU).
Influenza-like-illness (ILI): Acute onset of respiratory illness with fever and cough and with one or more of the following - sore throat, arthralgia, myalgia, or prostration which is likely due to influenza. In children under 5, gastrointestinal symptoms may also be present. In patients under 5 or 65 and older, fever may not be prominent.
- Greater than 10% absenteeism (or absenteeism that is higher (e.g. >5-10%) than expected level as determined by school or public health authority) which is likely due to ILI.
Note: it is recommended that ILI school outbreaks be laboratory confirmed at the beginning of influenza season as it may be the first indication of community transmission in an area.
- Hospitals and residential institutions:
- two or more cases of ILI within a seven-day period, including at least one laboratory confirmed case. Institutional outbreaks should be reported within 24 hours of identification. Residential institutions include but not limited to long-term care facilities (LTCF) and prisons.
- Greater than 10% absenteeism on any day which is most likely due to ILI.
- Other settings:
- two or more cases of ILI within a seven-day period, including at least one laboratory confirmed case; i.e. closed communities.
Note that reporting of outbreaks of influenza/ILI from different types of facilities differs between jurisdictions.
Influenza/ILI activity level
1 = No activity: no laboratory-confirmed influenza detections in the reporting week, however, sporadically occurring ILI may be reported
2 = Sporadic: sporadically occurring ILI and lab confirmed influenza detection(s) with no outbreaks detected within the influenza surveillance region Footnote †
3 = Localized:
- evidence of increased ILIFootnote * and
- lab confirmed influenza detection(s) together with
- outbreaks in schools, hospitals, residential institutions and/or other types of facilities occurring in less than 50% of the influenza surveillance regionFootnote †
4 = Widespread:
- evidence of increased ILIFootnote * and
- lab confirmed influenza detection(s) together with
- outbreaks in schools, hospitals, residential institutions and/or other types of facilities occurring in greater than or equal to 50% of the influenza surveillance regionFootnote †
Note: ILI data may be reported through sentinel physicians, emergency room visits or health line telephone calls.
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