Ambulance dispatch calls attributable to influenza A and other common respiratory viruses in the Netherlands (2014-2016)

S. Monge, J. Duijster, G.J. Kommer, J. van de Kassteele, T. Krafft, P. Engelen, J.P. Valk, J. de Waard, J. de Nooij, A. Riezebos-Brilman, W. van der Hoek, L. van Asten*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Web of Science)


Background Ambulance dispatches could be useful for syndromic surveillance of severe respiratory infections. We evaluated whether ambulance dispatch calls of highest urgency reflect the circulation of influenza A virus, influenza B virus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), rhinovirus, adenovirus, coronavirus, parainfluenzavirus and human metapneumovirus (hMPV).Methods We analysed calls from four ambulance call centres serving 25% of the population in the Netherlands (2014-2016). The chief symptom and urgency level is recorded during triage; we restricted our analysis to calls with the highest urgency and identified those compatible with a respiratory syndrome. We modelled the relation between respiratory syndrome calls (RSC) and respiratory virus trends using binomial regression with identity link function.Results We included 211 739 calls, of which 15 385 (7.3%) were RSC. Proportion of RSC showed periodicity with winter peaks and smaller interseasonal increases. Overall, 15% of RSC were attributable to respiratory viruses (20% in out-of-office hour calls). There was large variation by age group: in <15 years, only RSV was associated and explained 11% of RSC; in 15-64 years, only influenza A (explained 3% of RSC); and in >= 65 years adenovirus explained 9% of RSC, distributed throughout the year, and hMPV (4%) and influenza A (1%) mainly during the winter peaks. Additionally, rhinovirus was associated with total RSC.Conclusion High urgency ambulance dispatches reflect the burden of different respiratory viruses and might be useful to monitor the respiratory season overall. Influenza plays a smaller role than other viruses: RSV is important in children while adenovirus and hMPV are the biggest contributors to emergency calls in the elderly.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)420-428
Number of pages9
JournalInfluenza and Other Respiratory Viruses
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020


  • adenovirus
  • ambulance
  • coronavirus
  • infection
  • influenza
  • intensive-care units
  • respiratory syncytial virus
  • rhinovirus
  • seasonality
  • syndromic surveillance

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