Norway Has Most Intense Europe Flu Transmission, EU Says

Norway is experiencing Europe’s most intense influenza transmission, even as the continent’s annual flu season appears normal, disease trackers said.

Eleven countries, including France and Germany, reported medium-intensity flu transmission in the first week of this year, compared with four in the last week of 2012, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said in a report. Norway was the only country to report high-intensity transmission, while the U.K. had low-intensity transmission, the ECDC said.

“This influenza season has started early compared to the previous season, which was both late and mild,” Angus Nicoll, head of the Stockholm-based ECDC’s flu program, said in an e-mailed response to questions today. “There is no indication that it will be more intense in Europe than usual.”

An influenza epidemic in the U.S. has killed 20 children, prompting New York state and Boston to declare health emergencies. Flu is widespread in 47 states and deaths from the virus and associated pneumonia are slightly above the epidemic level, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said. There’s a different mix of viruses circulating in Europe from those causing disease in the U.S., Nicoll said.

Influenza viruses circulating in Europe are considered a good match for those in the seasonal vaccines, according to the Jan. 11 report from the ECDC, which is an agency of the European Union. Companies that make flu vaccines include AstraZeneca Plc, CSL Ltd., GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Novartis AG and Sanofi.