2013 Flu Season Updates in the South Hemisphere

Flu Season in Australia and New Zealand

The flu season is heading towards its last month in the southern hemisphere. But there are reports of delayed influenza season in

All about the flu / flu season 2013/2014

All about the flu / flu season 2013/2014

several countries in the south. In Australia, there is evidence that the flu season has just started for several states. One is Canberra. Paul Kelly, Chief Health Officer of ACT confirmed last August 12 that the flu seasons in Canberra just started. Last year, flu season peaked in the middle of July. Eastern Australia also experienced a delayed flu season. Cases of flu were first reported in the first week of August and are not expected to peak anytime this month of September.

The odd thing observed is that other areas had an early flu season. In New South Wales, the flu season started earlier and peaked on the month of August.  There were also scattered reports of flu cases since January but the numbers are too few to be considered a sign of the flu season. Overall analysis shows that the 2013 flu season for Australia will be a slow one.

Despite the delay of the flu season in Australia, New Zealand is expected to reach the end of its flu season as the country enters spring. The country has an early flu season, at the very start of winter. However, there was reported late flu surge in Wellington reported last August 30 which made the Regional Public Health office on red alert this week for any changes in the situation. Health officials have officially declared it as a flu outbreak and warned Wellington citizens to watch out for symptoms.

This sudden spike in flu season activity in New Zealand has baffled medical experts. They still consider it as a late flu surge due to the effect of temperature change on the virus. However, official expert findings shows that warm weather have no significant effect on flu infection. So the cause for the late flu outbreak is still a mystery.

 

 Flu Season in South Africa

The same is true for South Africa. The flu season officially started last May and is expected to reach its last “hurrah” this September. It is also observed that the strain of the virus that affected the region is predominantly the H1N1 or influenza A which already have an effective vaccine. There are also cases of H3N3 cases but it is significantly lesser in numbers that those who were infected by H1N1.

All nine provinces in South Africa experience the onslaught of the flu season. But the most affected province is Gauteng with over 600 cases of the flu infection, the highest number in all provinces. North West had the least number reported which is just 7 cases of flu infection. The local health officials also needed to deal with the hoax that spread last July about swine flu infecting people in the region. Although the number of cases has dropped significantly since week 27, the number of flu infection remains consistent from week 28 to week 33. And this time most of the infections are caused by the H3N3 virus.

There is still no sign of the flu season ending in South Africa. But the current trend is saying that it is in its late stage. The number of cases is expected to drop further in the weeks to come. For now health officials are observing the behavior of the H3N3 flu strain.

 

Flu Season in South America

In South America, the flu season is officially over according to the World Health Organization. There were no cases of flu infection reported since week 32. It peaked in South America during weeks 26 to 27. Number of flu cases significantly dropped in the succeeding weeks. Week 33 and 34 showed no additional cases of people getting sick from any of the influenza strains, even from the very common H1N1 virus.

This information is telling us that the flu season is at its end in the southern hemisphere. The only notable exception is Australia due to the late onset of the flu season and the slow activity of influenza in the country. There is still no concrete explanation for this phenomenon but health officials are confident that the preparations they have will still work. The only issue is that this could lead to an extended flu season that could very well peak in the middle of spring or even continue to early summer.

 

Conclusion

Australians are advised to take the flu vaccine to increase their protection from the virus. The slow activity should not be taken as a sign that flu season this year will have insignificant effect compared to last year. This will also help prevent sudden flu epidemics in areas with small to zero case of reported incidents. This is to prevent scenarios like that one happened in Wellington, New Zealand. Schools are good places for the virus to spread fast since a lot of young people mingle with each other. An infected student can easily cause an outbreak if the other students are vulnerable.