Public health laboratories are a key component to the on-going national influenza surveillance system. They use a combination of diagnostics and techniques to provide valuable information about the influenza viruses circulating across the country. Data generated by public health laboratories helps characterize the strains circulating in each laboratory’s community and provides information for vaccine virus selection. Furthermore, public health laboratories can provide representative influenza samples from their communities to CDC for use in vaccine development and further characterization.
Most laboratories use the CDC Human Influenza Real-Time RT-PCR Detection and Characteristic Panel which is a highly sensitive molecular assay that yields definitive results within a few hours. Many laboratories also perform traditional virus culture which allows for further virus characterization and antiviral resistance testing. State and some local public health laboratories submit a representative sample of influenza specimens to three national contract laboratories which perform virus culture and antiviral resistance testing. The data from the contract public health laboratories feeds directly into the national surveillance data.
In addition to the antiviral resistance testing at the national contract laboratories, thirty public health laboratories are known to be performing pyrosequencing to detect specific markers of influenza antiviral resistance.
To see how the data from national surveillance is used, please visit CDC’s FluView website for weekly updates on influenza surveillance.
Some U.S. public health laboratories are National Influenza Centers for the World Health Organization (WHO). Visit the WHO FluNet website to look at the current international influenza landscape.
Additional Surveillance Resources
Canada's Influenza Surveillance - FluWatch
WHO European Region Influenza Surveillance
European Center for Disease Prevention and Control Weekly Influenza Surveillance
Google Flu Trends uses aggregated Google search data in a model created in collaboration with CDC to estimate influenza activity in the United States.
Distribute Project provides syndromic surveillance information the proportion of emergency department visits for influenza like illness (ILI) per week.