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Influenza -- Worldwide

Europe: The 1981-1982 European influenza season, which began with isolations of influenza B and influenza A(H1N1) and (H3N2) viruses in a few countries in November-December, 1981 (1,2), continued through the spring of 1982, with isolations of influenza B viruses in Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and West Germany; isolations of influenza A(H1N1) viruses throughout eastern Europe (Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, and Rumania), as well as Scandinavia (Finland, Norway, and Sweden); and isolations of influenza A(H3N2) strains in Bulgaria, East Germany, and the Netherlands. In East Germany, morbidity associated with A(H3N2) activity approached epidemic levels in some districts; in the United Kingdom, influenza B activity increased considerably from what were originally low levels (2), and in several countries, local outbreaks of influenza A(H1N1) or influenza B were reported. Overall, however, the European influenza season had remarkably little activity.

Central and South America: In addition to the previously reported outbreak of influenza A(H3N2) in Trinidad from October to December 1981 (2), sporadic influenza B activity has occured in July and August, 1982, in Trinidad. Laboratory confirmation of influenza activity by virus isolations has also been obtained in the past year from Brazil, Colombia, and Peru. Influenza A(H1N1) strains were isolated in Lima, Peru, beginning in October 1981, and in Belem, Rio de Janeiro, and Sao Paulo, Brazil, from February to April 1982. These represent the minority of reported isolations. In Brazil, influenza B and influenza A(H3N2) viruses were recovered in approximately equivalent total numbers from March to June, with influenza B virus isolated more frequently in Rio de Janerio and influenza A(H3N2) virus isolated more frequently in Sao Paulo. During April 1982, influenza A(H3N2) strains were isolated in Bogota, Colombia. Despite active surveillance, no influenza viruses were recovered in Chile during the winter.

Asia, the Pacific, and Africa: Influenza A(H1N1) virus was isolated in Indonesia from December 1981 to February 1982 and in Qingdao, People's Republic of China (PRC) in February 1982. Virus of this subtype has not recently been isolated. In contrast, influenza B virus has been circulating throughout the past year. In Taiwan (Republic of China), influenza B viruses were isolated beginning in December 1981, increased to cause outbreaks peaking in March, and declined in activity in April and May, paralleling activity reported previously from Japan (1,3). Influenza B viruses were also isolated in Beijing and Fuxin city, Liaoning Province, PRC, in February and March 1982; in Hong Kong in March 1982; in Singapore in April and May; and in Indonesia from April to July. In Fiji, influenza B virus circulated from April to June and, in May, caused an outbreak among university students. The first sporadic isolate of influenza B virus in Australia during the season was reported in April, and by July and August, influenza B virus represented about one-half of isolates being recovered from epidemics. By the end of July, only sporadic isolations of influenza B virus had been reported from South Africa.

Circulation of influenza A(H3N2) viruses throughout the past year has been confirmed by virus isolation in the cities of Qingdao and Shanghai, PRC, in February and March 1982. In June, this virus was detected for the first time this year in Australia where approximately one-half of influenza isolates during epidemics in July and August have been influenza A(H3N2) strains. Influenza A(H3N2) viruses have been isolated in the Philippines and Singapore in July and predominanted in Jakarta, Indonesia, during July and August.

Antigenic analysis of the first isolates in Australia and Indonesia received from outbreaks during June and July has not indicated that new variants are associated with recent influenza activity. Preliminary findings show that strains appear similar to those that circulated in the United States during the past two winters. Reported by WHO National Influenza Centers, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Czechoslovakia, People's Republic of China, Peru, Sweden, Singapore, Caribbean Epidemiology Centre, Trinidad, USAF Diagnostic Virology Section, USAF School of Aerospace Medicine, San Antonio, Texas; NAMRU-2, Jakarta, Indonesia; National Institute of Health and Veterans Administration Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC; Virus Diseases Unit, WHO, Geneva; WHO Collaborating Center for Influenza, Influenza Br, Div of Viral Diseases, Center for Infectious Diseases, CDC.

Editorial Note

Editorial Note: International surveillance of influenza during the past year has confirmed the continued circulation of influenza A(H3N2) strains, although they were rarely seen in the United States last winter. Influenza B viruses, which caused a major epidemic in the United States in 1979-1980 and low-level morbidity last winter, have been detected in all regions of the world. Influenza A(H1N1) viruses have been isolated relatively infrequently. Viruses of this subtype circulated widely among children and young adults in the United States in early 1978 and in a major epidemic of 1978-1979. They have also circulated during the past two winters in the United States, but to a much lesser extent than in 1977-1979. Results of international surveillance during the past several years have tended to demonstrate that, except when a major new strain appears, considerable differences exist between regions in patterns of virus prevalence within any one year, although over a several-year period, the combined experiences are similar. Thus, as one example, in 1980-1981, when influenza A(H3N2) viruses caused a major epidemic in the United States, many other countries had relatively low influenza activity. Because of the great disparity in influenza activity between different countries and the continued circulation of influenza A(H1N1), (H3N2) and influenza B strains during the past year, neither the likelihood of an epidemic in the United States next winter, nor the predominant influenza strain or strains, can be reliably predicted. This underscores the desirability of immunizing the high-risk population before winter with current vaccines (4) containing antigens representing all three influenza strains that have been prevalent worldwide. Although this year's vaccine composition is similar to last year's, revaccination of persons who received vaccine before the winter of 1981-1982 is recommended because of the anticipated decline in antibody titers that will have occurred in such persons before the 1982-1983 influenza season.


  1. CDC. Influenza--United States, worldwide. MMWR 1982;30:634-5.

  2. CDC. Influenza--worldwide. MMWR 1982;31:107.

  3. CDC. Influenza--Japan. MMWR 1982;31:64.

  4. CDC. Influenza vaccines 1982-1983. MMWR 1982;31:349-53.

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