2019 Hunter New England’s worst flu season on record


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THIS year’s flu season is officially the worst on record – but while 2019 may hold the title on paper, it’s not an outright victory. In Hunter New England, there have been 7150 confirmed flu cases, surpassing 2017’s previous record of 7036. Hunter New England Health public health physician Dr David Durrheim said the increase was due to more frequent testing. By June, there had already been about 30,000 more tests carried out across NSW this year compared to two years ago. READ ALSO “This year, 14 per cent of influenza tests came back positive,” Dr Durrheim said. “In 2017, 28 per cent of tests came back positive. “So the number of cases are up this year, but so too are the number of tests.” Influenza testing has also advanced, becoming more readily available to doctors. “Many labs are now testing for influenza on the same panel as other respiratory virus,” Dr Durrheim said. Want to have your say? Click this link to write a letter to the editor This year was also an unusually long flu season, starting about two months early, and far more severe than 2018, when only 814 cases were recorded. Dr Durrheim said it was extremely important for high-risk groups to get vaccinated, particularly in flu season. “Every year we expect in excess of 50,000 deaths across Australia are linked to influenza or its complications, and we expect it to be similar this year,” Dr Durrheim said. “The flu may be the trigger, but the admission to hospital will be under something different, a heart or respiratory related issue.”

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