Influenza is still hammering Australia with unseasonable disrespect. Is this just more testing for flu viruses, or is it a new variant virus?
January 2019 is about to pass 2017 and become the second biggest flu January on record. It’s also just over 1,000 cases behind 2018’s previous record-breaking January total.
Why is it so…?
It’s possible that more rapid result molecular testing announced in prior years is finally become more frequently used during summer. We may simply be getting a realistic glimpse of how many summer illnesses are related to flu infection. Without those ‘in the know’ putting these numbers into the public domain though, we don’t have anything to go by.
We also can’t rule out a variant flu virus emerging. A virus that vaccination or previous infection hasn’t totally protected us against. That may not be entirely far-fetched given that new flu viruses can often emerge from the warmer climes at any stage. A variant doesn’t necessarily mean a deadly virus; just one that gets around and may cause milder illness.
In summary, and to be quite frank:
- it can be ridiculously bloody hard to find out what’s happening with the flu
- if you give a damn about flu outside of “flu season” (an archaic concept) then tough luck!
- if this was a new variant flu virus, I can only guess at what point the public would get to find out about it and how. Australia has been seeing months of high flu case numbers, so presumably, we aren’t seeing high rates of disease/hospitalisation or something that would put this strange pattern on the right radar (supporting that it’s a test-driven phenomenon perhaps?).
- if you depend on information to be published in the public domain – you have to wait for occasional mainstream media reports. And you then rely on them to be correct.
And that just annoys the crap out of me.
- Notifications of a selected disease by month and year, 1991 to present http://www9.health.gov.au/cda/source/rpt_3_sel.cfm