The current influenza season has turned out to be the mildest in five years, with just under 28,000 cases so far — a fraction of last year’s record of more than a quarter of a million.
The latest report by the National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System (NNDSS) indicates most of the activity in the past fortnight has been in NSW and Queensland.
Across Australia there’s been only 3251 influenza cases reported in the past two weeks and the figures for August are 13 times lower than the same period last year.
The director of communicable diseases for NSW Health, Dr Vicky Sheppeard, says while there’s been a slight increase in flu cases across the state — 968 last week, up from 810 the preceding week — overall numbers remain stable ahead of the season’s expected peak.
“It’s pleasing to see only 18 of those cases required hospital admission,” Dr Sheppeard says, confirming that the dominant strain has been influenza A (H1N1).
“Certainly, they’re very low numbers, in the two hundreds for [hospitalisation in] the season so far. This time last year we were seeing around 200 patients admitted each week, so that’s a big difference,” he said.
This year the new influenza vaccine for people over 65 has been boosted in strength to provide higher immunity.
Children at risk have also been targeted for influenza vaccination this year.