The UK Severe Influenza Surveillance System (USISS) was established following the 2009 influenza pandemic to monitor severe seasonal influenza. This article describes the severity of influenza observed in five post-2009 pandemic seasons in England. Two key measures were used to assess severity: impact measured through the cumulative incidence of laboratory-confirmed hospitalised influenza and case severity through the proportion of confirmed hospitalised cases admitted into intensive care units (ICU)/high dependency units (HDU). The impact of influenza varied by subtype and age group across the five seasons with the highest crude cumulative hospitalisation incidence for influenza A/H1N1pdm09 cases in 2010/2011 and in 0-4 year olds each season for all-subtypes. Case severity also varied by subtype and season with a higher hospitalisation: ICU ratio for A/H1N1pdm09 and older age groups (older than 45 years). The USISS system provides a tool for measuring severity of influenza each year. Such seasonal surveillance can provide robust baseline estimates to allow for rapid assessment of the severity of seasonal and emerging influenza viruses.
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