Project: Defining the epidemic threshold for syndromic influenza surveillance in primary care
Laboratory testing provides definitive diagnosis of influenza infection but this is not always convenient in general practice settings. Notified laboratory confirmed influenza underrepresents the burden of influenza in the community and is sensitive to changes in testing practices, so comparison of trends data from year to year may not be informative. Syndromic surveillance of influenza-like illness (ILI) provides a practical and consistent alternative measure of influenza activity in the community.
The Epidemiology Unit in the Doherty Institute undertakes surveillance for influenza-like illness (ILI) from a network of sentinel general practices from May to October each year, and receives Victorian data on ILI from the National Home Doctor Service. These data are used to epidemiologically characterise influenza in Victoria, but require periodic analysis to calibrate thresholds that determine the onset, duration, magnitude and end of each season.
This project would suit students with analytical skills and an interest in understanding how infectious data are used, understood and reported.