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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/winter-health-watch-summary-26-march-2015/winter-health-watch-summary-26-march-2015
This is the final winter health watch bulletin for winter 2014 to 2015.
1.1 Cold Weather alert
All regions in England are currently at a Level 1 Cold Weather Alert.
Prior level 2 and 3 cold weather alert periods this season have occurred from 12 January to 8 February 2015, 25 to 31 December 2014 and 11 to 13 December 2014.
From 1 April 2015 all regions of England will return to Cold Weather Alert 0 ‘long term planning’.
In week 12 2015 (ending 22 March), influenza B was the predominant flu virus circulating, with indicators of influenza activity generally at low levels. The Department of Health alert issued on the prescription of antiviral medicines by GPs is still active.
Influenza activity will continue to be reported weekly.
1.3 Syndromic surveillance
Syndromic Surveillance report GP consultations for scarlet fever remain elevated but stable during week 12; highest rates remain in the 1 to 4 years age group, despite a small decrease over the last week.
There were small increases in GP consultations for upper respiratory tract infections, acute respiratory infection and NHS 111 cough calls. These increases coincide with current influenza B activity.
Syndromic surveillance will continue to be report weekly.
Laboratory reports of norovirus in the current season are 13% lower overall compared to the 5 year seasonal average (from season 2009 and 2010 to season 2013 and 2014).
Currently laboratory reports are at similar levels compared to the same weeks in previous years. Reports of outbreaks of diarrhoea and vomiting in hospitals continue to be reported at similar levels to previous years.
Norovirus activity will now be reported monthly.
Rotavirus activity is low; laboratory reports are 74% lower than the 10 season average (from season 2003 to 2004 to season 2012 to 2013). The decreased rotavirus activity is likely to be associated with the introduction of the oral vaccine in July 2013.
Rotavirus activity will now be reported monthly.
1.6 All-cause mortality
In week 12 2015, significant excess all-cause mortality by week of death was seen through the EuroMOMO algorithm in England in 65+ year-olds, though this is just above the significance threshold.
Since week 40 2014, significant excess mortality has been observed in England in weeks 50-7 and 12 2015 predominantly in 65+ year-olds, peaking in week 2 2015. This period coincides with circulating influenza and cold snaps.
Excess all-cause mortality will continue to be reported weekly.