Geographic representativeness for sentinel influenza surveillance: implications for routine surveillance and pandemic preparedness

Aust N Z J Public Health. 2006 Aug;30(4):337-41. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-842x.2006.tb00846.x.


Objective: To review the guidelines for geographic representativeness applied to sentinel influenza surveillance as proposed in the Framework for an Australian Influenza Pandemic Plan (1999).

Methods: The number of sentinel practices, participating general practitioners and their consultation rates per 100,000 population, by region, were described for the Victorian sentinel surveillance system for 2003 and 2004. Influenza-like illness rates per 1,000 consultations were calculated for all participating practices and for a subset of regular participators. Indicators of seasonal influenza activity, set according to predefined thresholds, were compared in the two groups.

Results: During these two influenza seasons, a subset of approximately one-quarter (27%) of participating practices provided almost half (45%) of the patient swabs and detected the same level of influenza activity over two influenza seasons as all participating practices. However, this subset of GPs recorded only 0.3% of all GP consultations in Victoria in 2004.

Conclusions: There should be an updated, evidence-based strategy for interpandemic influenza based on the number of general practice consultations. Requirements for surveillance during various pandemic phases also need to be reviewed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Disaster Planning*
  • Geography*
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Influenza, Human / epidemiology*
  • Sentinel Surveillance*
  • Victoria / epidemiology