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Online Discussion: Tracking new emerging diseases and the next pandemic

Australia Seeing Record Early Flu Numbers.

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John L. View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote John L. Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Australia Seeing Record Early Flu Numbers.
    Posted: May 25 2019 at 4:17pm
Crazy early Southern Hemisphere flu numbers being reported in Australia. We in the United States need to follow, we usually get it next in our Fall!

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-05-25/why-do-i-need-another-flu-shot-this-year/11142380

Flu is surging, and it's up to GPs and microbiologists to stay on top of the virus' changing nature
ABC Central West
By Donal Sheil

Posted Fri at 4:00pm
A syringe being injected into an arm
Photo: Influenza vaccines contain dead cells, which make it impossible for jabs to infect you. (Supplied: Unsplashed, Hyttalo Souza)
Related Story: Here’s why getting the flu shot will never give you the flu
Related Story: Australia's bad flu epidemic: Your questions answered

Each year, millions of influenza vaccinations are produced and injected in Australia and then, like clockwork, another batch is brewed and the cycle repeats.
Key points:

    Experts say identifying new mutations of flu faster on a local level is the best way to improve immunity
    Flu this year is surging, with people presenting with flu-like symptoms at twice the five-year average across two week in April and May
    Vaccine production has already surpassed 12 million units in 2019, up from 8.3 million in 2017

But why is the flu changing, and how do scientists keep up?

This year is on track to see an above-average outbreak of influenza nationwide.

From April 22 to May 5, people presenting with flu-like symptoms have been twice the five-year average, according to the Department of Health.

Western NSW Local Health District public health manager Priscilla Stanley said a surge in sickness over the summer months has given the flu season momentum out of the gate.

    "This year, over the 2018-19 summer in Australia, we saw some very high numbers, unprecedented numbers of influenza," she said.

Citing tyranny of distance as the main roadblock to identifying and treating flu outbreaks in regional areas, Ms Stanley said being ahead of the curb on flu season was an uphill climb.

"We're never going to have a true representation of how many people in our communities have influenza," she said.
Embed: Chart: Annual Australian laboratory confirmed flu numbers

How the flu changes on a cellular level

Influenza is a highly-contagious virus which infiltrates and infects the respiratory system.
A diagram of the influenza virus
Photo: Influenza mutation occurs mainly in the surface protein hemmaglutinin. (Supplied: Centre for Disease Control and Prevention)

The continued mutation of one of the virus' two surface proteins, hemagglutinin, is what allows the virus to adapt to our newfound immunity each season.

When developing vaccines, scientists primarily target the new features of the hemagglutinin to fight infection.

When mutation occurs, it falls into either the 'drift' or 'shift' category.

Drift occurs when minor mutations appear, and are the main reason why seasonal epidemics take place and require vaccines.

Less frequent is shift, which often originates in animal populations like birds and pigs, and once caught by humans can create pandemic global outbreaks.

The most recent shift was the 2009 outbreak of swine flu — the H1N1 strain — which killed 191 Australians and infected 37,537 more, according to the Department of Health.

Virus strains even have names, like A/Michigan/45/2015 and B/Colorado/06/2017 — two of 2019's four vaccine-targeted strains.

These names are informed by the city where the mutations were first found in patients.

Once identified for vaccine production, virus strains are grown in laboratory eggs, killed, and split apart to remove all genetic material.

The lack of living cells in vaccinations is why flu jabs can not make you sick.
Staying one step ahead of mutations

Although vaccine vials roll off the factory floor in the millions, their development begins in the same general practices and hospitals where they are eventually administered.

Identifying new mutations of the influenza virus begins when sick citizens visit doctors and have their saliva swabbed.
A scientific microscope
Photo: State microbiology labs pass on their confirmed influenza cases to their national counterparts. (Supplied: Unsplashed, Michael Longmire)

These swabs are then passed onto microbiology laboratories in each state and observed to confirm if new mutations are present.

If confirmed cases of influenza are significantly mutated, they are referred upward to the Australian Influenza Vaccine Committee (AIVC).

The AIVC then advises the World Health Organisation's regional office in Melbourne as early as September for the following year's vaccine.
How important is the flu vaccine?
How important is the flu vaccine?
Many people are wondering if it's worth getting vaccinated against influenza and if so, when. Here's what you need to know.

Once scientists confirm the four most likely mutations of the upcoming flu season, the vaccination formula is passed on freely to Australia's pharmaceutical industry to begin mass production.

Vaccine production has already surpassed 12 million units in 2019, up from 8.3 million in 2017, according the Department of Health.

Immunisation expert Dr Robert Booy, a member of the AIVC, said collaboration between public health and industry was a must.

    "This is a public health partnership. We need to work together with industry," he said.

"They need to make money in order the make vaccines again next year, but they do it on a very small margin.

"Vaccines get sold for influenza for a really low price."
Influenza vaccinations sitting in a fridge at a pharmacy
Photo: Over 12 million vaccinations have been already been produced in 2019. (ABC Central West: Donal Sheil)

Dr Booy said new vaccines were not bulletproof, evidenced by the last case of influenza drift in 2017 which causing 1,255 flu-related deaths, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

"2017 was a massive year, and you could put it down to the virus first because it mutated to the point where it didn't match our vaccine very well at all," Dr Booy said.

    "Our vaccine worked only moderately well in younger people and in older people it hardly worked at all."

Influenza vs the common cold
Influenza vs the common cold
Why is it that the flu can cause death but we don't generally hear of colds doing the same?

Ninety-one per cent of flu-related deaths in 2017 occurred in people 65 years and older, according the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System.

Dr Booy said if scientists can create a vaccine that attacks the stem of the flu virus that rests under the surface proteins, the effectiveness of vaccines would be significantly boosted.

Identifying new mutations of flu faster on a local level is the best way to improve immunity in the immediate future, Dr Booy said.

"If we got more samples going through the system, particularly from severe cases, we might be able to recognise even earlier what the prevailing and dominant strain is, and do something about it," he said.

Topics: vaccines-and-immunity, health, healthcare-facilities, health-policy, health-insurance, health-administration, maternal-and-child-health, adolescent-h
John L.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dutch Josh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 26 2019 at 3:11am
https://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/cda-surveil-ozflu-flucurr.htm

Key Messages
Activity – Currently, influenza and influenza-like illness (ILI) activity are high for this time of year compared to previous years. At the national level, notifications of laboratory-confirmed influenza have increased in the past fortnight and it is likely these figures will be revised upwards due to backlogs in data entry. Influenza A was the most common respiratory virus detected in patients presenting with ILI to sentinel general practices this fortnight.
Severity – There is no indication of the potential severity of the 2019 season at this time.
Impact – There is no indication of the potential impact on society of the 2019 season at this time.
Virology – In the year to date and in the past fortnight, the majority of confirmed influenza cases reported nationally were influenza A (87%). Where subtyping data were available, influenza A(H3N2) was the dominant influenza A subtype in the past fortnight.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DeepThinker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 28 2019 at 7:52pm
My gut tells me we already had that strain here...   We had two distinct flu outbreaks. The second one came very late and was really nasty.   Then again it might be like Spanish flu where we have an outbreak in the spring and again the next fall who knows.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote carbon20 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 29 2019 at 4:33pm
Had the 4 strain vaccine last week...

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote KiwiMum Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 29 2019 at 4:36pm
Here in NZ our new flu vaccine contains the following:
The funded quadrivalent influenza vaccines in 2019 offer
protection against the following influenza strains:24
• A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1) pdm09-like virus
• A/Switzerland/8060/2017 (H3N2)-like virus
• B/Colorado/06/2017-like virus
• B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus
If it is to be, it is up to me.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote arirish Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 01 2019 at 11:00pm

Does anyone have any info on what strain is hitting Australia so hard?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote arirish Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 01 2019 at 11:16pm
Carbon - Is there an anti-vacs movement there? Here it's a combo of anti-vacs/flu only effects other people syndrome and I meant to get it but didn't have time!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Albert Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 04 2019 at 5:25am
Fiji flu strain kills healthy couple in fiji. Odd story how a flu can kill two healthy people that fast. Aussie flu.

https://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/warnings/couple-die-after-contracting-mysterious-illness-while-on-holiday/news-story/ca7c5a416c0c194f5d1ad44c115aad68
https://www.facebook.com/Avianflutalk
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote KiwiMum Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 06 2019 at 12:04am
Today in the press they announced here that we are nearly out of flu vaccines and they are being restricted to vulnerable people only.
If it is to be, it is up to me.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote KiwiMum Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 06 2019 at 12:05am
In the papers yesterday was the story of a young rugby player aged 20 who died from the flu.
If it is to be, it is up to me.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote carbon20 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 08 2019 at 5:23am
Hi all, in UK at moment,

Yes there is a anti-vax moment here, but now all children have to be vaccinated else, No school, I believe that the are some exemptions for religious reasons,

Which is OK, to many people on the planet anyway....lol


12 Monkeys...............
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote carbon20 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 09 2019 at 12:40am
The West Australian: Killer virus stretches hospitals to breaking point.
https://thewest.com.au/news/health/killer-virus-stretches-hospitals-to-breaking-point-ng-b881224949z
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote carbon20 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 09 2019 at 3:17am
I will say that, after having Jab,my arm still hurts 2 weeks later,

Never had that happen before.....

and it ached for days after....

Not sure why?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote carbon20 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 12 2019 at 12:10am
Hey lllllllhhhhhhhh

I guess they don't sell ropes in the retarded country you live in

Try walking out in front of a train

Give us all a rest from your pathetic rants

You A very SAD LITTLE PERSON
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote carbon20 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 12 2019 at 9:15am
Yes good idea,

you seem to be on the same intellectual level as that juvenile

Trump
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote EdwinSm, Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 15 2019 at 1:03am
Quote This year’s flu season is expected to cause 4000 deaths among Australians, as medical professionals cross their fingers the rate of infections slows before the winter peak.

Already this year, the rate of laboratory-confirmed diagnoses is triple that of historical averages at the same time of the year.

There have been almost 40,000 confirmed influenza cases in the country this year. There were 58,500 recorded for the entire 2018 calendar year.

While the average annual death rate due to complications from influenza is between 3000 and 4000, this year’s season is so dangerous for two reasons, medical experts revealed on Tuesday.

With last year’s season comparatively mild to 2017 (which is considered the worst influenza year since the 2009 swine flu epidemic), there is a reduced community immunity, resulting in more people being at risk of contracting the disease, said Immunisation Coalition chairman Professor Robert Booy.

The second contributing factor is the double-hit effect of the influenza that’s circulating the country.

Professor Booy explained it was a unique season in that there were two types of influenza A – H1 and H3 strains – when usually it was one or the other causing the damage.

“[This year] has been really strange … There has been a sustained and rising summer and autumn surge that began at the end of last year and is continuing to increase,” Professor Booy said.

The concern now is the traditional peak of the flu season – June through to September – is still to come, and the rate of cases shows no signs of slowing.


Link to the New Daily
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote carbon20 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 18 2019 at 11:21pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote EdwinSm, Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 25 2019 at 10:38pm
From the data I found it seems that the Australian flu might have peaked in June, whereas August is normally the peak. Is that what the Australian news is picking up? (Or will flu numbers rise again in July and August?)

Click on the links in this page for pdf reports
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote carbon20 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 26 2019 at 2:17am
I don't think there will be more,

people seem to have gotten the message

and had a flu shot,

thats providing that the flu shot works!!!!!!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote EdwinSm, Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 21 2019 at 10:36pm
Originally posted by carbon20 carbon20 wrote:

I don't think there will be more,

people seem to have gotten the message




The latest graphs show that you are correct,    with the peak happening one month early (in July instead of August) and a rapid fall from peak.



PDF file with graph
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