Climate change could be altering traditional flu
patterns, a University of Otago influenza authority says.
Associate Prof Nick Wilson, of the Wellington campus, was
contacted for comment about unusually early pockets of
influenza this year.
Prof Wilson said it was possible climate change was affecting
the usual season, which generally peaks in the middle of the
Warmer climates did not tend to have a peak.
''In tropical countries where the seasons aren't as dramatic,
there's no strong winter peak. It's just spread out through
''With climate change, who knows - we might move towards that
more spread-out pattern. [Because of climate change], we've
got to think about how disease patterns change as well.''
Asked if that meant the flu vaccination push might have to be
sooner in the year, he said successive years of flu data
would need to be analysed. Multiple cases of the H1N1 strain
have been reported in several parts of the country recently.
The annual vaccination programme is in full swing.
Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew, in a recent press
release, said more than 654,000 flu jabs had been
distributed. This was 10% more than the same time last year.
Mrs Goodhew said March 31 was day 36 of the 2014 influenza
vaccination campaign ''and already we're over halfway to our
target of 1.25 million doses by 31 July''.
''Flu vaccination is easier to get than ever. It's free from
a GP for those 65 and over, pregnant women and people with
long-term health conditions such as heart disease, stroke,
diabetes, respiratory disease [including asthma], kidney
disease and most cancers. Many workplaces offer free
vaccination, and also GPs and now many pharmacists can
provide it for a small charge.
''The best protection against influenza is immunisation. The
strains included in this season's influenza vaccine are a
good match to those strains in the recent northern hemisphere
influenza season, including the H1N1 strain.''
While there was one possible case of H1N1 flu in Oamaru last
month, the South appears to have missed the early run of flu.
Southern District Health Board medical officer of health Dr
Keith Reid said this week the local health authority
''still'' had no reports of flu activity.
''We have approached seven practices across the district to
provide surveillance in accordance with the national
protocols, and are expecting to launch local surveillance on