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BMC Public Health. 2019 Jul 4;19(1):879. doi: 10.1186/s12889-019-7174-6.

Factors associated with influenza-like-illness: a crowdsourced cohort study from 2012/13 to 2017/18.

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Sorbonne Université, INSERM, Institut Pierre Louis d'Épidémiologie et de Santé Publique (IPLESP), F-75012, Paris, France.
Sorbonne Université, INSERM, Institut Pierre Louis d'Épidémiologie et de Santé Publique (IPLESP), F-75012, Paris, France.
Department of family Medicine, Faculté de Médecine, Université Paris Descartes, Paris, France.
APHP, Service de Médecine Interne, Hôpital Ambroise-Paré, 92100, Boulogne-Billancourt, France.
UFR des sciences de la santé Simone-Veil, Université de Versailles - Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, 78280, Versailles, France.



Influenza generates a significant societal impact on morbidity, mortality, and associated costs. The study objective was to identify factors associated with influenza-like-illness (ILI) episodes during seasonal influenza epidemics among the general population.


A prospective study was conducted with the crowdsourced cohort between 2012/13 and 2017/18. After having completed a yearly profile survey detailing socio-demographic, lifestyle and health characteristics, participants reported weekly data on symptoms. Factors associated with at least one ILI episode per influenza epidemic, using the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control case definition, were analyzed through a conditional logistic regression model.


From 2012/13 to 2017/18, 6992 individuals participated at least once, and 61% of them were women (n = 4258). From 11% (n = 469/4140 in 2013/14) to 29% (n = 866/2943 in 2012/13) of individuals experienced at least one ILI during an influenza epidemic. Factors associated with higher risk for ILI were: gender female (OR = 1.29, 95%CI [1.20; 1.40]), young age (< 5 years old: 3.12 [2.05; 4.68]); from 5 to 14 years old: 1.53 [1.17; 2.00]), respiratory allergies (1.27 [1.18; 1.37]), receiving a treatment for chronic disease (1.20 [1.09; 1.32]), being overweight (1.18 [1.08; 1.29]) or obese (1.28 [1.14; 1.44]), using public transport (1.17 [1.07; 1.29]) and having contact with pets (1.18 [1.09; 1.27]). Older age (≥ 75 years old: 0.70 [0.56; 0.87]) and being vaccinated against influenza (0.91 [0.84; 0.99]) were found to be protective factors for ILI.


This ILI risk factors analysis confirms and further completes the list of factors observed through traditional surveillance systems. It indicates that crowdsourced cohorts are effective to study ILI determinants at the population level. These findings could be used to adapt influenza prevention messages at the population level to reduce the spread of the disease.


Cohort studies; Crowdsourcing; Epidemiology; Human influenza

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