Ambos brace for flu pandemic this winter

Cathy O’Leary – April 26, 2017

The State’s ambulance service is urging people to be vaccinated against the flu as it braces for what experts predict could be a looming pandemic.

St John Ambulance WA said that in winter last year almost 1000 patients with flu-like illnesses were taken by ambulance to Perth hospital emergency departments, up from 753 in the previous winter.

But it said this year could be even worse, after Australian infectious diseases experts recently warned that the world was on track for a pandemic on par with the Spanish flu, which killed 50 million people in 1918-19.

Researchers from the University of NSW said that after a lull in new flu strains, 19 separate strains had been detected in the past century, with seven of those showing up only in the past five years.

That escalated the likelihood of a major flu pandemic.