The reasons for the seasonality and annual changes in the impact of influenza epidemics remain poorly understood. We investigated the covariations between a major component of climate, namely the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and indicators of the impact of influenza, as measured by morbidity, excess mortality and viral subtypes collected in France during the period 1971–2002. We show that both the circulating subtype and the magnitude of ENSO are associated with the impact of influenza epidemics. Recognition of this association could lead to better understanding of the mechanisms of emergence of influenza epidemics
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