Influenza cases soar this season with mix of strains

LABORATORY-­confirmed in­f­luenza cases have surged to more than five times the level seen in autumn last year, as the virus comes back with “a vengeance”, an expert says.

National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System data for May shows 8339 confirmed cases so far this year, up from 1637 in early 2010, although they’re mostly confined to Queensland and the Northern Territory.

“It’s not widespread, but certainly there is a lot more activity, especially in those states,” said Dr Ian Barr (PhD), deputy director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza.

“To see those cases at higher levels earlier in the year does maybe indicate that we are going to have a more severe year than last year, which was relatively mild.”

Dr Barr said H1N1 was the dominant strain in 2010, though its impact was dulled by heightened immunity, a hangover from its wide