How much worse is this than normal? Redux

16 07 2009

I mentioned yesterday how I’d found a great report generator buried in the Department of Health and Ageing website. It has all the notifications of Influenza back to 1993, listed by month.

Anyway, I had another play with the generator and PowerPoint again tonight – looking again at the monthly figures – and I’ve created this graph. It shows the monthly notifications for all types of influenza in Australia for 2007, 2008 and so far (to today) for 2009:

year on year comparisons

As you can see, it tells an interesting story. Note a few points:

  • 2007 was one of the worst influenza seasons in Oz in at least a decade and a half: and yet this year we are already twice the notifications for July and we still have half the month to go.
  • The peak in August 2007 was double the July 2007 figure. We can expect August 2009 to be very big.
  • The peak in 2008 didn’t come until September – we’ve all been expecting our season to peak in August – why are we so sure?
  • There were still significant cases of flu in October in both 2008 and 2007.

In short, this flu season is very far from over, if past seasons are any guide.

Remember, please, all the caveats on these notification figures that I gave last time here. Including the fact that the comparison with 2007 is overstated (I have no doubt) because we are testing a whole lot more people this year than we did then.

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2 responses

22 07 2009
Cosmoskitten

Keep up the good work! Best wishes for Australia from Sweden. It is a bit cruel, but you realy are guinea pigs for us up in the north of the globe. Good information from countries that get AH1N1v early can realy help others. I am happy to see that Mexico was so transparent with what they knew.

22 07 2009
aussieflublogger

Hi. Thanks for the best wishes! Yes – being a guinea-pig isn’t something that we would wish on ourselves – but I think we would be happy if what we learn from our Winter down here helps people up North. Warm regards. Nick.

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