Flusurvey.ie is a new website that will map the spread of seasonal influenza and allow health authorities and members of the public fight against flu. The site is the result of a joint research collaboration between NUI Galway, the HSE, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre and international partners from the EU-wide Influenzanet project and enlists members of the public to help in the fight against seasonal flu.
Flusurvey.ie is part of Influenzanet, already used in other European countries, which is an innovative development using on-line volunteers to support existing influenza monitoring systems and is accessible at http://flusurvey.ie. It will be available to the general public from Monday November 4th, 2013.
The internet has been used to monitor patterns of influenza-like-illness (ILI) in the Netherlands and Belgium since 2003, in Portugal since 2005, in Italy since 2008 and in the UK since 2009. Denmark, France, Spain, and Sweden are also running their versions of 'flusurvey'.
The system will indicate to those that register, how many other cases are recorded in their area of residence and will provide real time data about the spread of flu. It will provide valuable public health information on the demographics and geographic location of influenza sufferers. Using internet technology it provides public health agencies across Europe with novel opportunities for gathering data from members of the public on infectious diseases such as influenza.
Volunteers register online and self-report by answering short questions relating to demographic, medical, socio-economic and lifestyle issues. The information received is anonymous.
Participants can view interactive maps with influenza data broken down at their local and national levels, and the system can map the spread of the disease in its early stages, and provide health professionals with an early warning signal of nationwide outbreaks.
Seasonal influenza is a highly contagious viral disease that is characterised by a sudden onset of fever, accompanied by muscle pain or headache, and a cough or sore throat. In Ireland, influenza epidemics usually last 6-14 weeks, usually occurring between October and May each season.
In additional to its debilitating effects, international studies have consistently highlighted the adverse economic impact of influenza due to absenteeism, and also how it can adversely impact on an individual’s productivity in the workplace.
For information on seasonal influenza see here
See also NUI Galway press statement here