This year’s flu cases are more than double those of 2015
As of 16 October there have been a total of 212,365 laboratory confirmed notifications of influenza in Australia this year, according to statistics from the Immunisation Coalition and the Department of Health.
The majority of these (99,731) were in NSW, followed by QLD (52,822), Victoria (23,877) and South Australia (23,503).
Despite the high numbers, the Immunisation Coalition says the true number could be far greater.
“The vast majority of people do not get tested for influenza and that there may also be some delays in reporting confirmed influenza cases,” says the Coalition.
“Therefore data presented here may be underestimating influenza activity.”
Looking at the past five years, the next highest number of flu notifications was in 2015, which saw 100,590 confirmed cases across Australia.
And 2016 saw 90,837 flu cases.
While now on a downward trend, flu cases continue to be reported in high numbers.
“Influenza activity at the national level decreased this reporting fortnight; however, high levels of activity continued to be reported in a majority of regions,” says the Department of Health.
“Moderate levels of influenza activity in the community are likely to continue for the next few weeks as the season returns to baseline levels.”
However clinical severity for the season to date, as measured through the proportion of patients admitted directly to intensive care unit (ICU), and deaths attributed to pneumonia or influenza, is low to moderate.
“The proportion of patients admitted directly to ICU has been on the lower range reported in recent years,” says the department.
“There have been a number of reported deaths due to influenza and pneumonia and the majority have been in the elderly, which is consistent with a season predominated by influenza A(H3N2).”