Emergency department syndromic surveillance providing early warning of seasonal respiratory activity in England

H. E. Hughes*, Roger Morbey, T. C. Hughes, T. E. Locker, Richard Pebody, Helen Green, Joanna Ellis, Gillian Smith, Alex Elliot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Seasonal respiratory infections place an increased burden on health services annually. We used a sentinel emergency department syndromic surveillance system to understand the factors driving respiratory attendances at emergency departments (EDs) in England. Trends in different respiratory indicators were observed to peak at different points during winter, with further variation observed in the distribution of attendances by age. Multiple linear regression analysis revealed acute respiratory infection and bronchitis/bronchiolitis ED attendances in patients aged 1-4 years were particularly sensitive indicators for increasing respiratory syncytial virus activity. Using near real-time surveillance of respiratory ED attendances may provide early warning of increased winter pressures in EDs, particularly driven by seasonal pathogens. This surveillance may provide additional intelligence about different categories of attendance, highlighting pressures in particular age groups, thereby aiding planning and preparation to respond to acute changes in EDs, and thus the health service in general.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1052-1064
Number of pages13
JournalEpidemiology and Infection
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © Crown Copyright. Published by Cambridge University Press 2015.


  • Emergency department
  • influenza-like illness
  • respiratory infections
  • respiratory syncytial virus
  • syndromic surveillance


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