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Influenza Surveillance Program

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The New Mexico Department of Health Influenza Surveillance Program collaborates with many partners in county public health offices , public health and clinical laboratories, healthcare providers, clinics, and emergency departments to perform surveillance across the state. Surveillance is performed for the following reasons:

  • To monitor when and where influenza activity is occurring
  • To determine what influenza viruses are circulating
  • To monitor severe influenza disease and influenza-associated hospitalizations
  • To monitor the effectiveness of vaccination programs
  • To detect emerging threats such as avian or other novel influenza virus strains
  • To measure the impact of influenza on deaths in New Mexico

Influenza surveillance in New Mexico primarily consists of three components:

Hospital Surveillance

Hospitalization for influenza is a notifiable condition in New Mexico (can reference the NMAC condition list). Hospitals serving residents of seven counties (Bernalillo, Chaves, Dona Ana, Grant, Luna, San Juan, and Santa Fe) report to NMDOH and its partners at University of New Mexico when they have a patient admitted with laboratory-confirmed influenza. Hospitals are asked to submit specimens to the New Mexico Scientific Laboratory Division (SLD) for influenza testing. Medical records of the hospitalizations are reviewed to track trends of severe influenza infection and to identify conditions and treatments that increase risk or benefit to persons hospitalized with influenza.

Outpatient Illness Surveillance

Information on patient visits to health care providers for influenza-like illness (ILI) is collected through the Outpatient Influenza-Like Illness Surveillance Network (ILINet). ILINet consists of more than 3,000 healthcare providers nationwide who report data to CDC on the total number of patients seen and the number of those patients with ILI. New Mexico sentinel providers also submit influenza specimens to SLD according to the Sentinel Surveillance program guidelines.

Approximately 30 emergency departments in the state also provide data on ILI visits through the Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-based Epidemics (ESSENCE) database. ESSENCE provides chief complaint and discharge diagnosis data to NMDOH in order to monitor rates of acute respiratory illness (ARI) and influenza-like illness (ILI) among New Mexico patients.

Laboratory Surveillance

Laboratories statewide report any influenza virus result that is novel or that cannot be subtyped. The New Mexico Scientific Laboratory Division (SLD) performs influenza subtyping for the above-listed surveillance projects, as well as for respiratory outbreak investigations.

Summaries of New Mexico data are provided each week during the respiratory season (typically October-April). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also presents data at various levels (state, regional, national) weekly during the respiratory season through FluView.

About Influenza

Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a contagious respiratory tract infection caused by influenza viruses. It is transmitted from person to person through sneezes, coughs and touching with hands that were sneezed into or coughed into without being washed afterwards. Symptoms of influenza generally include fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, headache, and/or fatigue.

Since symptoms of influenza are similar to many other respiratory diseases that have specific treatments (e.g. COVID-19, RSV), symptomatic and exposed individuals are encouraged to obtain testing. An accurate diagnosis helps guide both the appropriate treatment and control measures to improve health outcomes and reduce spread to others.

While influenza is usually a relatively mild disease in healthy adults and older children, the elderly and very young, pregnant women, and those with chronic illnesses or other health problems are considered high-risk groups for developing serious illness. Though all individuals should get annual influenza vaccination, it is especially encouraged for those at high-risk of severe outcomes. Health care workers and others who live with or care for high-risk individuals also should be vaccinated yearly.

During most influenza seasons, which typically run from October to April, between 3 percent and 11 percent of the population is infected with influenza viruses. CDC estimates that 140,000-710,000 people are hospitalized and 12,000-52,000 people die from influenza each year in the U.S.

Viral Respiratory Infection Dashboard

The Viral Respiratory Infection Dashboard provides an additional summary of respiratory disease burden in the state. The dashboard is updated weekly.

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