Influeza cases in Australia have doubled compared to the same time last year, while the Influenza Specialist Group (ISG) estimates that up to one third of all Australians could face increased risks of severe complications should they contract the flu this season.
Despite the heightened risk, the ISG says that just 30-40 per cent of people in this high risk category are being immunised and that it is not only the elderly and ill that are susceptible to the virus.
“People tend to think of the flu as an illness that has its worse impact on the elderly… the reality is that influenza results in 18,000 hospitalisations every year,” ISG Professor Michael Nissen says.
Close to 21,000 cases of influenza have been reported in Australia already this year – double the number of cases at this time last year, according to the Department of Health and Ageing Influenza Surveillance Report and Activity Updates.
The majority of the cases have been reported in Queensland with 5959 recorded instances, closely followed by New South Wales with 5375. However, this could also be due to due to the frequency of testing.
The ISG revealed that approximately 20 to 50 per cent of children are likely to catch the flu, compared with 10 to 30 per cent of adults, while women are 25 per cent more likely than men to contract the virus.
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