Australian Influenza Surveillance Report – No. 08 – fortnight ending 18 July 2021

The Australian Influenza Surveillance Report and Activity Updates are compiled from a number of data sources, which are used to monitor influenza activity and severity in the community. These data sources include laboratory-confirmed notifications to NNDSS; influenza associated hospitalisations; sentinel influenza-like illness (ILI) reporting from general practitioners; ILI-related community level surveys; and sentinel laboratory testing results.

Page last updated: 23 July 2021

The Australian Influenza Surveillance Report is published on a fortnightly basis during the influenza season, typically between May and October. Influenza activity updates will be published outside of the seasonal period.

Australian Influenza Surveillance Report No. 08 – fortnight ending 18 July 2021

Key Messages

It is important to note that due to the COVID-19 epidemic in Australia, data reported from the various influenza surveillance systems may not represent an accurate reflection of influenza activity. Results should be interpreted with caution, especially where comparisons are made to previous influenza seasons. Interpretation of 2020 influenza activity data should take into account, but are not limited to, the impact of social distancing measures, likely changes in health seeking behaviour of the community including access to alternative streams of acute respiratory infection specific health services, and focussed testing for COVID-19 response activities. Current COVID-19 related public health measures and the community’s adherence to public health messages are also likely having an effect on transmission of acute respiratory infections, including influenza.

Activity

  • While influenza-like-illness (ILI) activity in the community remains at historically low levels, levels have increased since January 2021, with a peak occurring in May.
  • Notifications of laboratory-confirmed influenza have remained low since April 2020. In the year to date in 2021, there have been 419 notifications to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS) in Australia, of which 27 notifications had a diagnosis date this fortnight.

Severity

  • There is no indication of the potential severity of the 2021 season at this time.
  • In the year to date, of the 419 notifications of laboratory-confirmed influenza, no influenza-associated deaths have been notified to the NNDSS.
  • There have been no hospital admissions due to influenza reported across sentinel hospitals sites since commencement of surveillance in April 2021.

Impact

  • Given the low number of laboratory-confirmed influenza notifications, low community ILI activity, and no hospitalisations due to influenza at sentinel hospital sites, it is likely there is minimal impact on society due to influenza in 2021 to date.

At-risk populations

  • In 2021 to date, children under 5 years of age, adults aged 60–69 years, and adults aged 85 years and older, have the highest influenza notification rates.

Virology

  • To date, 69.9% of notifications of laboratory-confirmed influenza to the NNDSS were influenza A, of which 96.6% were influenza A(unsubtyped) and 3.4% were influenza A(H3N2). Influenza B accounted for 21.0% of notifications, 2.9% were influenza A and B co-infection, 0.5% were influenza C, and 5.7% were untyped.

Vaccine match and effectiveness

  • It is too early to assess vaccine match and effectiveness for this season.
  • Of the 9 samples referred to the WHOCC to date, 1 was characterised as antigenically similar to the corresponding vaccine component, while 8 were characterised as antigenically dissimilar.

Full Report

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Previous Reports and Updates

Annual Reports

Accessibility Issues

Should you encounter issues in accessing the information contained either on this webpage or within the downloadable full reports please email flu (flu@health.gov.au) or contact the Department of Health switchboard on 02 6289 1555 or 1800 020 103.

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