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Flu season and trends in Australia

It's more common to catch the flu, or experience flu-like symptoms, in the colder months of the year (April to October). This page provides information about current flu risk levels and trends across Australia based on calls to the healthdirect helpline. It also tells you how to help prevent colds and flu.


Current flu risk

As of 19 September 2017, the flu risk is moderate across Australia.

This is a good time to get the annual flu vaccination.

Someone with the flu (influenza) may show symptoms that include a cough, sore throat, sinusitis or fever.

Healthdirect Australia collects flu data based on calls to the healthdirect helpline (1800 022 222).

Both the flu risk meter (left) and the graph below show the percentage (%) of flu-related calls.

Here's how to read our flu risk meter:

  • Minimal – less than 6 in 100 calls (<6%)
  • Low – 6 to 8 in every 100 calls (6-8%)
  • Moderate – 8 to 10 in every 100 calls (8-10%)
  • High – 10 to 12 in every 100 calls (10-12%)
  • Intense – greater than 12 in every 100 calls (>12%)

Flu trend and forecast

The flu risk usually stays low during the summer months and rises to a moderate or high risk at the peak of the flu season. The risk is only intense in years of unusual flu activity, such as in 2009 when a new influenza strain emerged.

How to read the flu trend graph

When the blue line is within the grey shaded area, it's a typical flu season. If the blue line rises above the shaded area this may be the first sign of an increase in flu-like illness in Australia.

This graph contains data up to 19 September 2017.

The data collected from the healthdirect helpline is provided to Australian health departments on a regular basis during the flu season. Results are also published in the Australian Influenza Surveillance Report.

How to avoid the flu

In addition to following good hygiene practices, flu vaccination is a recommended protection against influenza. The best time to get it is early autumn, before the flu season.

Other ways to help prevent flu include:

  • keeping surfaces clean
  • washing your hands regularly
  • avoiding sharing cups and cutlery
  • covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  • Check your symptoms

    If you are still concerned about your cold or flu, why not use healthdirect’s Symptom checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

    The Symptom checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self-care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

    Last reviewed: September 2017

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