Assessing the burden of paediatric influenza in Europe: the European Paediatric Influenza Analysis (EPIA) project.
Paget, W.J., Balderston, C., Casas, I., Donker, G., Edelman, L, Fleming, D., Larrauri, A., Meijer, A., Puzelli, S., Rizzo, C., Simonsen, L. Assessing the burden of paediatric influenza in Europe: the European Paediatric Influenza Analysis (EPIA) project. European Journal of Pediatrics: 2010, 169(8), 997-1008
The European Paediatric Influenza Analysis (EPIA) project is a multi-country project that was created to collect, analyse and present data regarding the paediatric influenza burden in European countries, with the purpose of providing the necessary information to make evidence-based decisions regarding influenza immunisation recommendations for children.
The initial approach taken is based on existing weekly virological and age-specific influenza-like illness (ILI) data from surveillance networks across Europe. We use a multiple regression model guided by longitudinal weekly patterns of influenza virus to attribute the weekly ILI consultation incidence pattern to each influenza (sub)type, while controlling for the effect of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) epidemics.
Modelling the ILI consultation incidence during 2002/2003–2008 revealed that influenza infections that presented for medical attention as ILI affected between 0.3% and 9.8% of children aged 0–4 and 5–14 years in England, Italy, The Netherlands and Spain in an average season. With the exception of Spain, these rates were always higher in children aged 0–4 years. Across the six seasons analysed (five seasons were analysed from the Italian data), the model attributed 47–83% of the ILI burden in primary care to influenza virus infection in the various countries, with the A(H3N2) virus playing the most important role, followed by influenza viruses B and A(H1N1). National season averages from the four countries studied indicated that between 0.4% and 18% of children consulted a physician for ILI, with the percentage depending on the country and health care system. Influenza virus infections explained the majority of paediatric ILI consultations in all countries.
The next step will be to apply the EPIA modelling approach to severe outcomes indicators (i.e. hospitalisations and mortality data) to generate a complete range of mild and severe influenza burden estimates needed for decision making concerning paediatric influenza vaccination.