Flu season is taking its toll on the economy

Richard Laycock 30 August 2017 NEWS

Woman lying sick in bed

Aussie businesses limp through the worst flu season on record.

Australia is in the midst of its worst flu season on record and it's not just your average Australian being affected. Aussie businesses have haemorrhaged over $50 million in lost productivity in August alone. In this year to date, Australian businesses have lost almost $94 million to lost productivity.

The number of confirmed cases of influenza this season is more than triple the number from the same period last year. So far this year, 117,251 confirmed cases of influenza have been recorded, with 63,373 in August alone, making 2017 the worst year for the flu on record. The previous yearly record for flu cases was in 2015, with 100,590 confirmed cases, a figure that 2017 has already passed in just eight months.

And we may not be out of the woods yet. Flu season generally peaks in the months of July, August and September. This August was particularly bad, with almost 2,000 cases reported each day. However, over the last fortnight, the number of flu cases has seen an uptick, with over 40,000 new cases being reported since 17 August. That's a rate of over 3,000 new cases per day.

July and August 2017 have ranked as the worst and the third-worst months for influenza on record.

Top five worst flu months on record

Month/year Confirmed flu cases
August 2017 63,373
August 2015 39,222
July 2017 32,627
August 2016 29,421
September 2015 27,083

How do the states compare?

So far this year, the flu has affected Australians at a rate of 4.8 per 1,000 people. New South Wales residents have been the worst hit, at a rate of 7.6 per 1,000 people, while those in Western Australia were best off, with a rate of 0.9 flu cases per 1,000 people.

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