Flu Epidemic Hits Australia
Some areas and sectors of Australia have been hit hard by influenza last winter with the flu season starting earlier than in previous years. Leading many to ask how long does the flu last? Alongside questions like, when to get flu shot in Australia? These are important questions to get an answer too, especially since the next flu season is right around the corner. If you are looking for other information about living in Australia you can find that here.
In New South Wales there have been 57 confirmed deaths due to flu, the majority in aged care centres some of which have chosen to restrict access following an outbreak of the condition. In Western Australia, which is reportedly facing the most severe flu season on record, there have been 41 flu-related deaths compared to just four at this same time in 2018. Overall, there have been more than 200 reported deaths from flu this year, with 42,000 people being diagnosed in June alone.
Almost 115,000 cases have been confirmed at the start of July 2019. Influenza A strain is the most common but all four strains are currently active. There has been a heavy demand for the flu vaccines and over 13.1 million flu vaccine doses have been given this year, two million more than last year effective 50-70% preventing illness. Australians are being advised that is not too late to get the flu jab, and that it is especially important for the elderly and children under age five for whom the vaccine is usually free.
New app to help staff manage outbreaks that can help answer when to get flu shot In Australia
Last year, 75 per cent of influenza-associated deaths occurred in people aged 65 and older. A new app has been introduced to help staff recognise and respond to outbreaks of influenza in aged care centres. The influenza outbreak communication advice and reporting app, FluCARE. This app was developed over two years following a $48k grant to the Sydney Local Health District’s Public Health Unit. The app is being subject to a 12-month trial in up to 30-age care facilities. Whereby staff will record data about suspected cases of influenza.
The data will then be analysed and alerts will be sent when the criteria for an outbreak has been reached. Key response personnel will be notified by email. Facility staff will receive a checklist along with advice about infection control measure from the Public Health Unit. The aim of the app is to potentially save lives. This is done through staff being encouraged to act sooner to contain the spread of the disease. Following the trial, the app is planned to be made available to all residential aged care facilities.
AI develops more effective flu vaccine
An influenza vaccine designed by artificial intelligence is about to start clinical trials in the United States. In an attempt to develop a more effective flu vaccine, researchers at Flinders University in Adelaide showed examples of drugs. These drugs are known to have worked and not worked to the AI program called Search Algorithm for Ligands (SAM). The program subsequently came up with a suggestion of what might make vaccines provide more protection against influenza. It is believed to be the first human drug independently designed by artificial intelligence.