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Michigan Influenza Sentinel Provider Surveillance

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) participates in the U.S. Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network (ILINet), a collaborative effort between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and local health departments, and volunteer sentinel clinicians as part of our influenza surveillance.

Sentinel physicians:

  • Report the total number of patient visits to their facilities each week, as well as the number of patient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) within five age categories (0-4 years, 5-24 years, 25-49 years, 50-64 years, and 65 + years).
  • Collect respiratory specimens from a sample of patients with ILI for respiratory virus panel testing at no charge by the MDHHS Laboratory (optional).

For surveillance purposes, ILI is defined as a fever of 100°F or higher accompanied by a cough, sore throat, or both. While these symptoms are common to many diseases, large and sudden increases in the number of ILI cases are often due to influenza. Taken together, these data and other influenza surveillance indicators provide a broad picture of influenza activity in Michigan.

Medical providers of any specialty (e.g., family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, infectious disease) in nearly any setting (e.g., private practice, public health clinic, urgent care center, emergency room, university student health center) who are likely to see patients with influenza-like illness can be sentinel providers. The only exception is for those providers who primarily care for institutionalized populations (e.g., nursing homes, prisons).

The advantages of being a sentinel physician include:

  • Free laboratory testing (respiratory virus culture) for approximately 11 specimens per site per year
  • Weekly feedback on submitted data
  • Summaries of regional, state, and national influenza data

More information on Influenza Sentinel Provider Surveillance

A current sentinel provider's ILINet testimony:

"As a large integrated health system, Spectrum Health is privileged to align with external partners to deliver both care and value to our patients.

Our participation with the State of Michigan Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network (ILINet) has been a highly successful collaboration. Along with the CDC, the State of Michigan, and local health departments, we are able to proactively monitor influenza disease throughout the year.

This program offers free influenza lab testing through the state, weekly updates on local and national flu activity, and free registration for participating sites at the MDHHS Fall Immunization conference. The many benefits of ILINet makes Spectrum Health proud to be an active participant."

- Mary Zimmerman RN, BSN
Immunizations Program Specialist
Spectrum Health