Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Tracking the flu in Australia

A few years ago someone on the old Down to Earth forum wrote about the Flutracking Project in Australia. As it says on the website 'Flutracking is an online health surveillance system to detect epidemics of influenza'. I signed up and from next Monday, when this year's survey begins, it will only take me 10-15 seconds per week to answer a few questions about whether we have had the flu in our household. It is hoped that 3,000 more Aussies will sign up this year so would you like to be one of them.

After getting the flu last year I am really hoping I won't catch it in 2018 and as you may have read in my last post I have been making up some Fire Cider to take to help prevent that happening. Yesterday I made a second bottle and included rosehips in this batch. Last August when I was sick in bed I wasn't able to get to the doctor as I couldn't hold my head up that long but I was able to take a few seconds to fill out my survey form which was emailed to me each week. 

Here are the results from the 2017 survey for those who might be interested in signing up:


You showed us that the 2017 influenza season had higher levels of influenza-like illness activity than recent years, but not as high as the 2009 pandemic year. The impact of this activity has been higher levels of absenteeism in 2017. 

Points of Note:

- There were 33,829 Flutrackers who completed at least one survey this year compared to 30,998 in 2016
- This is a 9% increase on the number of surveys completed last year
- Collectively Flutrackers had 46,451days (127 years!) off work or normal duties due to fever and cough symptoms
- Despite an increase in absenteeism in 2017, compared to prior years, there was not a large increase in health seeking behaviour
- Twice as many Flutrackers tested positive for influenza in the peak 4 weeks of flu activity in 2017 (4.8%), as compared to 2016
- The peak week of flu-like illness in 2017 was 20 August (3.4% of participants with fever and cough)


It was also a severe influenza year in the United States due to H3N2 type influenza with high rates of influenza spreading across the entire country.  Europe also experienced a severe influenza year with unusually high rates of type B influenza.  Influenza B is traditionally thought to mainly cause illness in children but it affected all age groups and caused many deaths among the elderly. 

So if any Aussies are reading this who might like to join up head over to the Flutracking Project and it will only take you a few minutes. 


 I saw something funny today that I must tell you about. I was outside watching a lot of planes flying over which I presumed were from the nearby Oakey Army Aviation Centre and they were probably practising for Anzac Day tomorrow. I had run inside to get my camera to try land get a photo of them but they were too fast for my camera skills but as I was looking up I noticed something in the macadamia nut tree.

Halfway up the tree I saw a pumpkin growing so I zoomed in and sure enough there wasn't just one but two and the second one was almost at the top of the tree. I was having a joke the other day about pumpkins falling out of the tree and it looks like that just might happen as these are big pumpkins and presumably they are Queensland Blues although I am not sure what colour they are when they are unripe as I have never grown them before. So I will be especially careful when walking under the tree on a windy day. LOL!

Then I moved some of the pumpkin vines on the ground which are growing over the compost heap and found a couple of smaller pumpkins which I guess are Butternuts so it looks like I won't need to buy pumpkins for a while. 

I hope everyone is having a great week. Don't forget to sign up for the Flutracking survey if you live in Australia and are interested as it starts next Monday. The flu is already around apparently which is quite early. Let's hope it won't be as bad as predicted and we all stay healthy. 


  1. Pumpkins growing in trees, whatever next! You'll have to watch your head, Chel, lest they fall down like big heavy bunya nuts :O Meg

  2. Meg, they do remind me of the issue with the bunya nuts falling :-)

  3. Thanks Nanna Chel I didnt know about this flu tracker! I am investigating and might sign up. Also your pumpkins look so beautiful! xxx

    1. Annabel I just found more pumpkins under the vines and we now have 10! LOL!

  4. At east the slaters will leave those tree-pumpkins alone Chel! That's one solution I haven't tried yet.....and I've tried many. :)

  5. I just pictured you climbing trees to pick pumpkins. LOL

  6. Hadn't heard about the flu tracker.
    Hope you enjoy your pumpkins without coming to any harm!

  7. haha, well well, pumpkins in the tree. There you have it. I wonder how you will get them when they are ready, will they fall? Only time will tell, be careful x I wonder if you could direct me where to find a recipe for the fire cider too please.

  8. Clarissa, the recipe for the first bottle I made is at the end of this post. The one I made last year is in the post Preparing for Winter Chills https://goinggreyandslightlygreen.blogspot.com.au/2017/06/preparing-for-winter-chills.html#more . If you look on Pinterest there are heaps of different recipes there too.


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