The Courier-Mail

Early start predicts bad flu season

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THE flu season has struck early and experts in charge of testing warn the virus runs at higher levels than usual.

The national GP Influenza Surveillan­ce Network said diagnosis of the flu increased dramatical­ly in the past two weeks of May with 20 per cent of swabs testing positive.

This compared to just 1 per cent of swabs testing positive at the same time last year.

ASPREN national influ- enza surveillan­ce network director, the University of Adelaide’s Professor Nigel Stocks, said when the US had a severe flu season, which it did this year, Australia would also have a bad flu season.

“Historical­ly, when the flu season starts early, it will be a particular­ly bad season,” Prof Stocks said.

A separate national surveillan­ce system, which also includes hospital and nursing home cases, also shows flu infections are higher this year than at the same time in previous years.

As at May 30, there had been 6747 cases of influenza reported.

However, flu levels would have been much higher.

The rollout of the flu vaccine was delayed by a month this year because of a problem producing enough supplies of the vaccine.

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