The Ministry of Health’s online FluTracking initiative is boosting our understanding of influenza.
“I’m thrilled that more than 3500 people have signed up to New Zealand’s first online campaign to monitor influenza since it launched two months ago. We hope many more people will sign up because the more who are involved, the better our understanding of seasonal influenza activity and the better our ability to prepare for it,” says the Ministry’s Director of Public Health, Dr Caroline McElnay.
"Influenza is a significant public health issue in New Zealand with 10-20 per cent of all New Zealanders getting infected. Some become so unwell, they need hospital care and on average, about 400 people die from influenza or complications relating to it each year. It’s very worthwhile to consider alternative ways of understanding influenza trends so that we can be better prepared for this highly contagious disease.
"FluTracking is already providing useful information, which matches our existing surveillance systems around New Zealand, and it enables people to be actively involved in monitoring influenza-like illness here.
“We will also soon have results from a study the Ministry commissioned about a wide range of other complementary data sources, including over-the-counter medicine sales, school and work absenteeism, Healthline calls and online search behaviour for health information to determine if they could be used as inputs of early warning systems for influenza that may prove useful as early indicators of potential outbreaks,” says Dr McElnay.
For more information, visit www.flutracking.net or Let’s track the Flu so we can help you