Internet-based monitoring of influenza-like illness in the general population: experience of five influenza seasons in The Netherlands

Vaccine. 2009 Oct 23;27(45):6353-7. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2009.05.042.


Like in most other countries, influenza surveillance in The Netherlands is based upon influenza-like illness (ILI) consultations reported by sentinel general practitioners (GP). In addition, an internet-based monitoring of ILI in the general population started in 2003/2004 (Great Influenza Survey (GIS)). We compared GIS results over 5 influenza seasons with results from the GP system. Weekly ILI incidence from GIS correlated well with ILI incidence from the GP system the same week and even better 1 week later. This suggests that GIS is useful for early detection of trends in influenza activity. However, two important vulnerable groups, children and the elderly, are clearly underrepresented in the GIS. Furthermore, virological confirmation is lacking in the GIS. So, GIS can be a useful addition to the GP system, especially when representativeness can be improved and when participation remains at the current high level.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disease Outbreaks / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Influenza, Human / epidemiology*
  • Internet*
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Patient Participation
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult