Dr. Ali Raja, Executive Vice Chairman of Department of Emergency Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital has said that with flu season starting earlier in Australia it is customary to get flu shot now and ideally it should be done before Halloween. The hospital has been seeing cases of confirmed flu even in September. Australia, this year alone has been hit by around 300,000 confirmed cases. The predominant flu strain has been the H3N2 virus. This virus is known to cause more severe illness and hospitalizations.
Doctors look at Australia and the Southern Hemisphere’s flu activity to find clues about how the flu season may look like since their winter (the prime flu season) is summer in the U.S. Reports say that Australia’s flu season began in April that is two months earlier than usual. A pediatrician at Gramercy Pediatrics Dr. Dyan Hes in New York said that she has already had two positive flu cases till now in this fall, and one in the summer. The common thing in all 3 cases were that all the three children had not received their flu vaccine yet. Hes said that they encourage the parents to get their children flu vaccine early in the fall. As children have strong immune systems the vaccination will offer protection throughout the flu season.
Dr. Leonard R. Krilov, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at NYU Winthrop Hospital said that the Influenza strains tend to follow migration patterns from the Southern hemisphere to the Northern hemisphere. “This A strain, H3N2, in Australia would be expected to be the predominant strain we see here this winter, but this is not absolute”, he said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines the seasonal influenza as an acute respiratory infection caused by influenza viruses that circulate in the world.