Many people get sick with influenza (flu) every year without seeing a doctor or reporting their illness. Because of this, DOH tracks statistical indicators to learn just how widespread influenza activity is in New Jersey, rather than tracking individual cases of illness.
DOH monitors influenza-like illness, and also collects information on severe or fatal cases of flu in hospitalized children. This seasonal influenza surveillance system has been expanded to include monitoring for the novel H1N1 flu virus.
New Jersey reports weekly to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which issues a weekly national influenza report on seasonal and H1N1 flu. Flu surveillance is described in more detail below.
The Department’s Public Health and Environmental Laboratories also plays a role in surveillance through laboratory testing to determine which flu strains are circulating in the state each season.
Influenza-like Illness (ILI ) Surveillance /Weekly ILI Reports:
DOH collects information on ILI weekly from hospital emergency departments and long term care facilities, and also collects absenteeism information from schools. In addition, the Department gets weekly reports from select hospitals on the number of patients tested for respiratory syncytial virus – a respiratory infection with symptoms similar to flu -- and the number who test positive. Data on positive RSV samples can help show whether another respiratory illness is influencing rates of ILI.
Pediatric Influenza Surveillance
Using a web-based form, DOH collects information on severe or fatal cases of pediatric influenza and analyzes the reports for risk factors and complications related to influenza.
Physicians: Become an Influenza Sentinel Provider
DOH and local health departments enroll physicians around the state to participate in the Influenza Sentinel Surveillance Program. Sentinel physicians play a vital role in tracking the progression of seasonal flu and detecting novel influenza viruses. Physicians are asked to report to DOH weekly on the number of patients seen in their practices and the number who have ILI, by age group.