On January 25, 2012, a new influenza monitoring system known as GrippeNet.fr was launched jointly by the Sentinelles network team (the mixed research team, unit 707 at Inserm – Université Pierre et Marie Curie) and the Health Watch Institute (Institut de Veille Sanitaire). This monitoring system was set up to collect epidemiological influenza data directly from the French population via internet.
This is an experimental system in which the involvement of the population will be a determining factor. Until this year, influenza was monitored in France through data collected from voluntary medical practitioners and a network of laboratories and hospitals. The data collected by GrippeNet.fr is not intended to replace the information validated by the health professionals. Rather, it is hoped that it will provide complementary information, in particular about people who do not go to their medical practitioner.
How will it work? The dedicated website www.grippenet.frcan be used by any adult living in France, healthy or suffering, who wishes to take part in the influenza monitoring campaign. It is completely anonymous and is a voluntary program. It only takes a few minutes. When you log on for the first time, all you are asked for is an e-mail address. You simply fill in a questionnaire about your profile, then each week you are asked to fill in a short questionnaire noting any symptoms you may have had since you last logged on (temperature, cough, etc.). This anonymous data are analyzed immediately and used for real-time monitoring of influenza cases in France. Remember that taking part in this program does not mean you do not have to consult your medical practitioner in case of problems.
The GrippeNet.fr project is financed by the French Authorities. This project is part of a vast European epidemic monitoring campaign and as such it is part of the European Epiwork project, financed by the European Commission and aimed at setting up epidemiological modeling and monitoring infrastructures throughout Europe. The Netherlands quickly showed great interest in this project. 25,000 persons subscribed right from the first season and over 50,000 persons have already taken part in the monitoring and follow-up for at least one season, that’s 0.30% of the population. The data can be consulted on the general website of the European project (Epiwork), or on the dedicated influenza monitoring site (Influenzanet). Like France, Germany, Austria, Sweden and Switzerland are joining the Influenzanet project this year. In December 2011, in the six countries that have already set up a similar system to GrippeNet.fr, (including Great Britain and Italy), over 35,000 Europeans had already taken part in the monitoring campaign.
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