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Influenza in Australia

01 Aug 2017

The winter flu season in Australia  is underway, with the Australian Department of Health Linkreporting rising case numbers in the fortnight ending 21 July 2017. For the year to 21 July, 35,774 cases of laboratory confirmed influenza have been reported from: New South Wales (13,986);  Queensland (8,814);  Victoria (5,698); South Australia (4,674); Western Australia (1,266); Northern Territory (596) Tasmania (416)  and Australian Capital Territory (294). The true total is likely to be higher. 

Advice for Travellers

Travellers to countries during their influenza season are at similar risk of infection as local residents.

Crowded conditions encourage spread of infection and travellers can be exposed, for example in those attending pilgrimages (e.g. the Hajj), in aircraft, waiting rooms, buses, bars, hotels and on cruises.

The composition of the 2016/2017 UK influenza vaccine includes the H1N1 strain. Travellers included in the government's at risk groups should ensure that they receive the annual influenza vaccine, particularly if travel is anticipated. Travellers outwith these groups may wish to obtain the vaccine privately (if still available) if concerned.

Reducing Risk

  • One of the most important ways of preventing the spread of infection is careful and frequent hand washing.
  • If soap, clean water and towels are not available, alcohol hand rub can be used.
  • If possible avoid crowded places.
  • If possible avoid coughs and sneezes.

For further information see Influenza.