DISINFACTS | Issue 2/2020

Influenza season 2019/2020: With spring, the 2019/2020 influenza season is also coming to an end. When looking at the statistics for Germany, it is apparent that flu activity in this winter season was moderate compared to previous years. Thanks to the measures taken against the coronavirus, this year’s flu season has ended abruptly. Corona measures end the flu season Since the current influenza season started in week 40 of 2019, a total of 434 deaths due to influenza virus infection had been reported to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) by the middle of April 2020. These figures were published by the Influenza Working Group (AGI) of the RKI in their weekly report for week 15/2020 (4.4.2020 to 10.4.2020) (1). This included 403 cases of verified influenza A, 22 cases of verified influenza B and nine cases not differentiated by influenza type (A/B). A total of 85 per cent of the deaths were women and men aged over 60 years. For the current influenza season, the RKI in Germany recorded 184,452 cases of laboratory confirmed influenza. One in six patients (16%) was hospitalised. In total, about 4.5 million people in Germany consulted a general practice or paediatric clinic in the preceding months because of influenza – a moderate number compared to last year. Abrupt end to the flu season As the figures from the AGI confirm, this year’s flu season ended in week 12 in mid March. One factor behind this was the protective measures put in place to deal with the pandemic: cancelling of large events, school closures and stay-at-home orders have led to an extremely unusual decline in all respiratory d i s e a s e s a c r o s s Germany according to the RKI (2). Influenza A dominates As part of the virological sentinel surveillance conducted by the AGI, since the start of the season 916 cases of influenza viruses were identified of which 375 (41%) were influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses, 414 (45%) were influenza A(H3N2) viruses and 127 (14%) were influenza B viruses. According to preliminary estimates of the effectiveness of the influenza vaccine, to which the RKI refers, the effectiveness is between 30 and 60 per cent in all age groups overall (3). Sources: 1 Robert Koch Institute (RKI). Influenza Weekly Report for Week 15/2020 2 Robert Koch Institute (RKI). Epidemiological Bulletin 16/2020 3 Robert Koch Institute (RKI). Influenza Weekly Report for Week 11/2020 Flu protection is simple! What helps: • basic hygiene (predominantly good hand hygiene) • coughing and sneezing etiquette (turning away, coughing or sneezing into your elbow or a tissue) • vaccination (mostly for those working in healthcare or immunocompromised people) Also read: Hygiene measures in case of influenza viruses at: www.bode-science-center.com Frequency of flu-like illnesses (%) Calendar week 2019/2020 KNOWLEDGE DISINFACTS 2/20 page 9