Background: The FluSTAR Surveillance System covers most of the United States, providing local and national information on influenza and influenza-like illness that is updated twice weekly.
Methods: Descriptive statistical analyses were performed to explore demographic characteristics, symptoms, vaccination status, and treatment of patients tested for influenza, using a rapid test kit, in the FluSTAR program during the 2005 to 2006 influenza season (October 1, 2005–April 11, 2006).
Results: Of 17,247 patients tested, the most common age groups were 35 to 49 (20%) or 19 to 34 years (18%). Overall, 22% of tests were positive. Patients testing positive were more likely to report influenza-associated symptoms such as cough and fever than those testing negative. Most patients testing positive were prescribed antiviral agents.
Conclusions: Surveillance systems such as FluSTAR can provide timely data on the circulation of influenza and influenza-like illness. This information could assist with accurate diagnosis and aid treatment decisions.
* The FluSTAR Surveillance System covers approximately 80% of the United States population and provides local and national information on influenza and influenza-like illness in the community that is updated twice weekly.
* FluSTAR tracks influenza and influenza-like illness with the objective of raising patient and physician awareness of impending influenza epidemics and hence assisting physicians in diagnosing influenza.
* During the 2005–2006 influenza season, 17,247 patients were tested for influenza in the FluSTAR program.
* The most commonly tested age groups comprised adults of working age.
* When stratified by age, significant relationships were found between a positive influenza test result and increased risk of cough, fatigue, fever, myalgia, and runny nose in most age groups.
* Following diagnosis, most patients were prescribed antiviral drugs.
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