Thirty-two percent of specimens test positive for flu in Europe

Approximately 32 percent of sentinel specimens tested in 27 European countries tested positive for influenza virus in the third week of 2014, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said on Monday.

The ECDC announced the flu statistics as part of its Communicable Disease Threats Report weekly bulletin. The bulletin is meant to aid health professionals and epidemiologists in the area of communicable disease control and prevention. The report covered the period of January 19 through Saturday.

According to the bulletin, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Bulgaria reported medium intensity of influenza activity. While Slovenia reported the A(H3) strain as the dominant virus, Scotland, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Bulgaria reported the A(H1)pdm09 strain as the dominant virus.

The report also focused on H7N9 influenza A in China. There were 37 new cases of the infection reported by local authorities in China between January 17 and January 23. Since the virus was first detected in March, there were 225 cases of human infection with H7N9 influenza. Fifty-five of the patients died as a result of the infection.

The ECDC bulletin also reported on eight new cases of chikungunya, seven on the Dutch portion of Saint Marin and one in Dominica. The epidemiological data indicate that the outbreak that began in Saint Martin is expanding.

The bulletin also reported 62 new Zika virus infections in French Polynesia. Since the outbreak began in October, approximately 26,000 people sought medical care with Zika-like symptoms.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted to humans through infected mosquitoes that causes fever, headache, muscle pain, nausea and vomiting. Zika virus is likewise spread by mosquitoes and symptoms include headache, rash, fever, joint pains, red eyes and muscle aches.