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Update: Influenza Activity -- Worldwide

Influenza A(H3N2) and Influenza B. During the winter of 1985-1986, influenza outbreaks in the Northern Hemisphere were associated primarily with virus types A(H3N2) and B, as they were in the United States. Both influenza A(H3N2) and B have been reported from Western Europe (France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom) and Scandinavia (Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden) and from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), Eastern Europe, and the Balkans (Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, and Yugoslavia). Influenza A(H3N2) was reported from Belgium, Bulgaria, and Greece. Influenza B was reported from the German Democratic Republic. Elsewhere in the Northern Hemisphere, influenza A(H3N2) virus was isolated in the People's Republic of China (PRC), the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, and Japan; influenza B was isolated in the PRC, Iran, Israel, the Republic of Korea, and Tunisia. Thus far during 1986, occasional isolations of influenza A(H3N2) and B have been reported from the Southern Hemisphere. A single influenza A(H3N2) isolate was reported from Australia in April. Both influenza A(H3N2) and B viruses were reported from New Guinea in February, and influenza B was reported from Madagascar in March and from Taiwan in April.

Influenza A(H1N1). During the winter of 1985-1986, influenza A(H1N1) viruses were infrequently reported from Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, the USSR, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and the PRC. However, since late March, influenza A(H1N1) has been increasingly reported from areas of Southeast Asia. Malaysia and Hong Kong have experienced localized outbreaks, and Singapore and Taiwan have reported regional epidemics of influenza A(H1N1). Reported by National Influenza Centers, Microbiology and Immunology Support Svcs, World Health Organization, Geneva; WHO Collaborating Center for Influenza, Influenza Br, Div of Viral Diseases, Center for Infectious Diseases, CDC.

Editorial Note

Editorial Note: The occurrence of influenza in the tropics and the Southern Hemisphere between April and September frequently indicates the influenza type that may occur in the Northern Hemisphere during the subsequent winter. The recent increase in circulation of influenza A(H1N1) virus in Southeast Asia suggests that it may appear in the United States during the 1986-1987 influenza season after an almost total absence during the last two seasons. In 1977, influenza A(H1N1) circulated widely in humans for the first time in 20 years and was associated with outbreaks in children and young adults. Persons born before the mid-1950s have generally been protected, presumably due to immunity to the virus developed earlier in life. Because it is unknown whether A(H1N1) viruses will evolve into variants capable of causing severe illness in the elderly, current influenza vaccines are formulated to include an A(H1N1) strain, in addition to influenza A(H3N2) and influenza B. Surveillance from countries outside Southeast Asia will provide further information during the next few months as to the relative circulation of influenza A(H1N1) viruses compared with influenza A(H3N2) and influenza B strains. The recommendations for the use of available vaccines and the antiviral agent amantadine were recently published (1).

Reference

  1. ACIP. Prevention and control of influenza. MMWR 1986;35:317-26,331,419.

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