Date lodged: 22 January 2018
To ask the Scottish Government for what reasons the incidence of influenza in winter 2017-18 has been reportedly higher for a number of years, and how it plans to learn lessons from the outbreak to reduce its incidence in future.
Answered by: Aileen Campbell 30 January 2018
Influenza viruses change all the time, and each season more than one strain of flu virus will circulate. Different flu strains may have a different impact on population groups within Scotland, and this in turn can lead to variation in the impact on health services from year to year. This year, to date, influenza A(H3N2) has been the dominant strain, and this more severely impacts the elderly.
The annual variation in circulating viruses presents a significant challenge. We do not know which flu viruses will be circulating but we do have a robust surveillance programme in place, monitored by Health Protection Scotland to provide early intelligence.
At the end of each flu season an annual review is undertaken across the UK with a combined annual report produced by Public Health England with contribution from Health Protection Scotland and each of the other Devolved Administrations. This work informs activities and planning for the following season. This year’s annual report will be published in the summer.