About this release

This release is a weekly report on epidemiological information on seasonal influenza activity in Scotland. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, health care services are functioning differently now compared to previous flu seasons so the consultation rates are not directly comparable to historical data.

Main points

Overall assessment:

  • Influenza activity was at Baseline level. There were three influenza cases detected in week 39: one influenza A, one influenza B and one coinfection with influenza A and B. This compares with two influenza cases reported in week 38.
  • The proportion of NHS24 calls that were for respiratory symptoms in week 39 remained at Moderate activity level overall. The <1-year age group was at High activity level, the 1-4 and 15-44 age groups were at Moderate activity level, the 5-14, 45-64 and 65-74 age groups were at Low activity level, and the over 74 age group was at Baseline activity level.
  • Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) increased to High activity level. The large majority of RSV detections thus far have been in those aged under 5 years. The typical RSV season usually peaks between week 49 and week 52. However, in 2020/21, week on week increases in laboratory-confirmed diagnoses for RSV have been reported since week 23 2021.
  • Rhinovirus was at Moderate activity level.
  • Coronavirus (non-SARS-CoV-2), human metapneumovirus (HMPV) and parainfluenza remained at Low activity level.

Background

Surveillance of influenza infection is a key public health activity as it is associated with significant morbidity and mortality during the winter months, particularly in those at risk of complications of flu e.g. the elderly, those with chronic health problems and pregnant women.

The spectrum of influenza illness varies from asymptomatic illness to mild/moderate symptoms to severe complications including death. In light of the spectrum of influenza illness there is a need to have individual surveillance components which provide information on each aspect of the illness.

There is no single flu surveillance component that can describe the onset, severity and impact of influenza or the success of its control measures each season across a community.

To do so requires a number of complementary surveillance components which are either specific to influenza or its control, or which are derived from data streams providing information of utility for other PHS specialities (corporate surveillance data). Together, the influenza surveillance components provide a comprehensive and coherent picture on a timely basis throughout the flu season. Please see the influenza page on the HPS website (external website) for more details.

Further information

The next release of this publication will be 14 October 2021.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email phs.flu@phs.scot.

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Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 07 October 2021
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