Acute respiratory infections cause significant morbidity and mortality accounting for 5.8 million deaths worldwide. In Australia, influenza-like illness (ILI), defined as cough, fever and fatigue is a common presentation in general practice and results in reduced productivity and lost working days. Little is known about the epidemiology of ILI in working-age adults. Using data from the ASPREN influenza surveillance network in Australia (2010-2013) we found that working-age adults made up 45.2% of all ILI notifications with 55% of samples positive for at least one respiratory virus. Viruses most commonly detected in our study included influenza A (20.6%), rhinovirus (18.6%), influenza B (6.2%), human meta-pneumovirus (3.4%), respiratory syncytial virus (3.1%), para-influenza virus (2.6%) and adenovirus (1.3%). We also demonstrated that influenza A is the predominant virus that increases ILI (by 1.2% per month for every positive influenza A case) in working-age adults during autumn-winter months while other viruses are active throughout the year. Understanding the epidemiology of viral respiratory infections through a year will help clinicians make informed decisions about testing, antibiotic and antiviral prescribing and when the beginning of the 'flu season' can be more confidently predicted.
- respiratory infections
- virus infection