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2015 a record year for flu cases
This year there have been a record number of flu cases, with more than 70,000 struck down by the disease.
Almost half of this year’s cases were recorded in August, the worst month on record for flu.
Things haven’t been looking too promising so far in September either. More than 10,000 cases have been confirmed in the past fortnight alone.
However, we do have to be a bit careful about reading too much into the data. Nationwide monthly flu data has been compiled since 2001 but it depends on people going to their general practitioner when they start experiencing symptoms, and then on the GP passing his information along to the health department.
University of Western Sydney influenza expert Robert Booy said the data reflected that doctors were getting better at taking specimens and sending them to laboratories. “It’s been about as bad as other bad years,” he said.
Queensland has been worst hit state this flu season. Almost a third of all cases have been recorded there, even though it is home to about one in five Australians.
Young children have been badly hit with flu this year – almost one in seven cases were among those aged between five and nine.
Professor Booy said this was because they were being exposed to the disease in primary school classrooms.
He said it was still flu season in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania but was on the decline in Queensland and New South Wales.
Chair of the AMA Council of General Practice Brian Morton said Australia’s flu season was mimicking the northern hemisphere’s flu season, which had recorded a bad year because of new strains of the disease emerging.
In Australia flu vaccines were delayed because protection against new strains had to be included.
But there is some good news – flu cases tend to drop off in Victoria during spring, so the sneezing season is almost over.
Published by The Age, 15/09/2015