8 findings for Australia's flu surveillance system

The picture this year is very different from 2017
8 findings for Australia's flu surveillance system

Australia has escaped a repeat of last year’s horror flu season with a relatively low infection rate so far.

There were 3789 laboratory-confirmed cases in July, almost 30,000 fewer than in July 2017, according to the latest Federal Health Department surveillance system.

Here are eight key surveillance findings:

  1. Rhinovirus was the most common cause of influenza-like illness (ILI) among patients presenting to sentinel GPs in the last two weeks of July. Only 6.5% of the 123 patients tested for flu had the infection.
  2. GP consultations for ILI have remained low and stable since mid-May. Some 5.6 per 1000 GP consultations were for flu-like symptoms in one week in mid-July.
  3. There were fewer laboratory-confirmed cases of flu in the last fortnight of July compared with the first two weeks of the month (1534 versus 1647). Most cases were influenza A. This strain has been responsible for 64% of infections this year.
  4. There were 19,216 notified flu cases until 21 July this year. Flu cases were higher than normal in January and February but returned to normal levels by March.
  5. 140 people have been admitted to hospital since sentinel hospital surveillance began in early April. This is lower than the five-year average for the same period (507). About 5% of patients had to be admitted to the ICU.
  6. 29 flu deaths have been reported this year. However, this doesn’t reflect the true mortality rate as not all notified cases of flu are followed up.
  7. The median age of the patients who died was 79. The youngest was two and the oldest 100.
  8. Most flu cases this year have been in NSW (6010) followed by Queensland (5959) and Victoria (2915)

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