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State hit with triple whammy flu season

Written by on May 17, 2024

NSW will be hit with a triple whammy of cold/flu, Covid and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) this flu season, with influenza cases “likely” to increase rapidly over the next six to eight weeks.

NSW Health’s latest respiratory surveillance report in the week ending May 11 confirmed the start of this year’s influenza season following an uptick in disease notifications and emergency department presentations in early May.

Released on Thursday, the report warned that cases would likely “rapidly increase over the next six to eight weeks and influenza activity will quickly reach high levels”.

NSW Health also warned that it expected a “large number of people” to be infected with Covid-19, influenza and RSV, with all three viruses circulating this winter.

While RSV normally causes mild, cold-like symptoms, it’s also one of the main causes of bronchiolitis when a person’s airways, or bronchioles, become infected.

The report said Covid-19 cases were “increasing across all ages,” with a “very large increase” in cases in people aged 90 and over.

“Everyone can help reduce the spread of respiratory pathogens through simple measures such as staying home if unwell and wearing a mask if you need to go out, staying up to date with recommended vaccinations and practising good hygiene, including regular handwashing,” it stated.

In the week to May 11, 2016 cases of influenza have been reported, in addition to 2820 cases of Covid and 2510 of RSV.

NSW Health also flagged the potential increase of whooping cough cases, with presentations of pertussis increasing since 2023 and “expected to continue to increase”.

“Unseasonably” high levels of ER presentations of pneumonia have also been reported in children and young adults, particularly kids aged five to 16 years of age.

“Within the emergency departments, most pneumonia presentations are classified as unspecified pneumonia, that is, a specific cause of the pneumonia has not yet been identified,” the report said.

“This information may become available later in the admission or following discharge from hospital.”