Implementing hospital-based surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections caused by influenza and other respiratory pathogens in New Zealand

Q Sue Huang, Michael Baker, Colin McArthur, Sally Roberts, Deborah Williamson, Cameron Grant, Adrian Trenholme, Conroy Wong, Susan Taylor, Lyndsay LeComte, Graham Mackereth, Don Bandaranayake, Tim Wood, Ange Bissielo, Ruth Seeds, Nikki Turner, Nevil Pierse, Paul Thomas, Richard Webby, Diane GrossJazmin Duque, Mark Thompson, Marc-Alain Widdowson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Recent experience with pandemic influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 highlighted the importance of global surveillance for severe respiratory disease to support pandemic preparedness and seasonal influenza control. Improved surveillance in the southern hemisphere is needed to provide critical data on influenza epidemiology, disease burden, circulating strains and effectiveness of influenza prevention and control measures. Hospital-based surveillance for severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) cases was established in New Zealand on 30 April 2012. The aims were to measure incidence, prevalence, risk factors, clinical spectrum and outcomes for SARI and associated influenza and other respiratory pathogen cases as well as to understand influenza contribution to patients not meeting SARI case definition.

METHODS/DESIGN: All inpatients with suspected respiratory infections who were admitted overnight to the study hospitals were screened daily. If a patient met the World Health Organization's SARI case definition, a respiratory specimen was tested for influenza and other respiratory pathogens. A case report form captured demographics, history of presenting illness, co-morbidities, disease course and outcome and risk factors. These data were supplemented from electronic clinical records and other linked data sources.

DISCUSSION: Hospital-based SARI surveillance has been implemented and is fully functioning in New Zealand. Active, prospective, continuous, hospital-based SARI surveillance is useful in supporting pandemic preparedness for emerging influenza A(H7N9) virus infections and seasonal influenza prevention and control.

Original languageEnglish
JournalWestern Pacific Surveillance and Response Journal : WPSAR
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)23-30
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 1-Aug-2014


  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Epidemics
  • Hospitalization
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype
  • Influenza A Virus, H7N9 Subtype
  • Influenza, Human/complications
  • New Zealand/epidemiology
  • Population Surveillance/methods
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Seasons
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome/epidemiology
  • Severity of Illness Index


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