Urgent warning for Australia as nasty virus outbreak expected to ‘run wild’ in coming months – and it’s not Covid
- The number of flu cases is rising across the country
- This will make a perfect storm with low vaccine rates
Australia is facing a dire flu season, experts have predicted, after an early spike in cases.
There have been 34,514 cases of flu reported across Australia so far this year, according to government figures, roughly equivalent to the 2019 season, which was the second worst season on record.
Flu cases fell to very low numbers during the Covid restrictions, but the virus is roaring back, with new strains generally brought by travelers returning from the Northern Hemisphere.
The U.S. has just finished a flu season with one of the earliest and strongest spikes in the past decade, according to experts.
This, coupled with a ‘miserable’ uptake of vaccines as Aussies relax from the threat of Covid, could send flu numbers back with a vengeance.
Flu vaccine uptake this year has been ‘miserable’ according to experts as Australians relax after Covid threat (file image)
There were 500 more cases in the first week of May in Queensland alone than in the 2019 season.
Griffith University infectious disease expert Professor Nigel McMillan said the number of cases was probably much higher, with many people choosing not to go to the doctor.
“It could be five times more, I think everyone probably knows someone who has been affected by a respiratory infection in the last three weeks, four weeks, and there will be more to come,” he told The courier mail this week.
“Poor vaccine coverage, and the fact that they’re making sure you don’t have really serious consequences, but don’t really spread it, means flu is going to run wild.”
He added that the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which can be serious for young children, is also rampant and rural areas, often with a large number of high-risk groups, such as First Nations communities, saw high numbers of both.
“There’s a really worrying increase… we’re seeing RSV and flu up to more than eight times the production in five years. So we’ll see, we’ll see how that plays out in regional areas,” Prof. McMillan said.
According to the National Center for Immunization Research and Surveillance, flu vaccine uptake is 9.2 percent for 15-50 year olds, compared to 15 percent for the same point in the year in 2020.
For children ages 5-15, the rate is 4.8 percent compared to 18 percent in 2020, while for children ages six months to five years, it is 8.1 percent compared to 27 percent in 2020.
Although the flu is not particularly serious for young adults, it can be very dangerous for high-risk groups such as children and the elderly (stock image)