Intended for healthcare professionals


Flu: Australia sees early start to season

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 08 July 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l4603
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. London

The flu season in Australia has started early, prompting some alarming headlines. But it is too soon to say whether 2019 will truly prove a “horror season,” as some press reports have it, or simply a typical year shifted in time by several weeks.

Cases of flu-like illness reported by the GP surveillance system began rising around the end of March, about two months earlier than over the past five years. Had they continued rising at a similar rate, the peak that was reached in 2017—the highest for this period—would soon have been exceeded.

The most recent figures, covering the fortnight to the end of June, in fact show a decline, to around 11 reports of flu-like illness in every 1000 GP consultations, less than half the 2017 peak. The proportion of patients with …

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