October 05, 2019
2 min watch

VIDEO: Tracking flu in the community as an 'early alert system' for hospitals

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WASHINGTON — Helen Y. Chu, MD, MPH, an assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Washington, explains findings from the Seattle Flu Study, an effort to track influenza transmission in the community as an “early alert system” for hospitals.

Chu and colleagues enrolled participants in clinics, day care centers, homeless shelters, college campuses and the airport and tested them for respiratory infections.

“We observed flu earlier in the community by about 2 weeks in certain populations compared to the hospital populations,” Chu said.

She said the results showed that surveillance for influenza in the community can help hospitals prepare for the season and prevent transmission in large metropolitan areas.

I think having this type of surveillance system would allow us to be able to understand how to detect and manage flu in a city before it becomes a problem for the hospitals,” she said. “One of the ways you could potentially do this is having an early alert system for the community so clinics would know the flu is coming, they would be able to stock up on antivirals and increase their staffing to adjust for the fact that they know that flu is arriving, rather than waiting for cases to show up in the hospital.”


Chu HY, et al. Abstract LB21. Presented at: IDWeek; Oct. 2-6, 2019; Washington.

Disclosures: Chu reports serving on an advisory board for Merck and receiving a research grant from Sanofi Pasteur.