Influenza update in Ukraine as of 12.02.2016 from the UKR CO. This will be updated as necessary.
Readers should in the meantime consult MOH website and FluNews Europe website.
Influenza continues to circulate in Ukraine as well as the WHO European Region, with several regions in Ukraine exceeding the epidemic threshold. In week 05, the Ministry of Health in Ukraine reported a decrease in influenza activity but it cannot be predicted if this decrease will continue. The predominant strain continues to be influenza virus A(H1N1), the virus that emerged during the 2009 pandemic, and is known to cause illness in young adults including pregnant women. An increase in severe hospitalized cases due to A(H1N1) has been seen in Ukraine since the end of 2015 but sentinel surveillance systems report that this has also declined for week 05.
Several other countries in Eastern Europe are experiencing similar cases of severe disease due to A(H1N1) (see link to Flu News Europe below) and WHO Euro regional office are currently conducting a risk assessment of the situation.
This influenza strain type and the two other seasonal detected types of H3N2 and B are included in seasonal influenza vaccines and are recommended for use in risk groups (children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years, persons above the age of 65, persons above the age of 6 months with underlying conditions, pregnant women and health care workers), including those in conditions where seeking medical help may be limited.
WHO continues to recommend all patients in high risk groups with uncomplicated illness and hospitalized patients with suspected influenza be treated with oseltamivir or zanamivir based on clinical presentation. Under no circumstances should treatment be delayed pending laboratory confirmation. Persons not in a high risk group but who develop signs or symptoms of progressive disease or fail to improve within 72 hours of the onset of symptoms, should seek medical attention.
This will require heightened awareness of both clinicians and the public.
WHO does not recommend the use of masks by the general public, nor the closure of schools during seasonal flu, as measures to stop the spread of influenza. Closure of schools may be considered as a local measure when attendance drops below a certain level, due to influenza or other causes.
This influenza season continues to attract intensive media attention; in particular deaths have been highlighted. Influenza deaths may occur due to complication that occur weeks after infection, or outside the health care system (elderly persons may die at home or in nursing homes), accurate estimates of deaths due to influenza are difficult to obtain. It may only be possible to calculate estimates of influenza-related deaths when vital statistics data become available, often with a delay of months or even years in some countries.
For the general public including UN staff in the country, it is recommended to stay at home and to stay away from work, schools and crowded places if you have influenza-like symptoms, keep at least 1 meter distance from other people, regularly wash your hands with soap and water, and dispose of tissues properly directly after use.
Flu News Europe, influenza bulletin of the WHO Regional Office for Europe and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (https://flunewseurope.org/)
Seasonal influenza: Key issues for case management of severe disease: This two-page (front and back) leaflet can be used as a reference in clinical settings when treating severe disease cause by seasonal influenza. http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/communicablediseases/influenza/...
For the general public: A poster in 4 languages – how to protect yourself and others http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/communicablediseases/influenza/...
WHO Regional Office for Europe recommendations on influenza vaccination during the 2015/2016 winter season (2015) http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/communicablediseases/influenza/...
WHO Country Office, Ukraine