NHS Direct calls 'accurate' way to track swine flu

Self sampling of people who call NHS Direct with flu-like symptoms is an accurate way of monitoring the spread of swine flu, UK research suggests.

Concerns were raised about the effectiveness of flu surveillance systems during the early phase of the swine flu pandemic.

But this latest study, which looked at 1,385 specimens from callers to NHS Direct during June 2009, found that the concerns were misplaced.

The research team from the Health Protection Agency found that the change in the proportion of people infected each week closely matched the rate of increase in clinical laboratory diagnoses, giving a reliable indication of the extent to which local transmission was occurring in various parts of the country.

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

BMJ Online 2009

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