There has been a seven-fold increase in the number of serious cases of flu in December, Queensland Health has confirmed.
There have been 57 laboratory-confirmed case of influenza in Brisbane since the start of the month, seven times the eight notifications for December 2009.
Queensland-wide, there have been 338 confirmed flu cases, more than seven times the 47 in December 2009.
Advertisement: Story continues below Queensland Health's acting chief health officer Aaron Groves said the flu season in Brisbane started in September, which was later than last year, when the flu season hit in the May to July period.
However, Dr Groves said 2010 had been an overall milder year for flu cases.
"Despite the number of flu notifications being higher in December 2010, compared to December 2009, there has been a downward trend in numbers across the last 12 months," he said.
Up until yesterday, there had been 2930 confirmed flu cases in Queensland this year, considerably less that the 18,307 in 2009 thanks largely to the swine flu epidemic.
Australian Medical Association Queensland president Gino Pecoraro said the late-year flu season had little to do with meteorology.
"There is no link with the weather, because it just a virus," he said.
"Other than, I suppose, if it is cold and wet people might spend more time indoors and closer to each other."
Dr Pecoraro said it was also too early to suggest that Brisbane, or Queensland more generally, might be moving towards a later flu season.
"If it happened like this for a couple of years then we could be saying that the peak flu season in Brisbane wasn't in June any more, but in spring, August, September," he said.
"I don't think that will happen, but you can only say that only after a couple of years to see whether it is more than a statistical blimp on a graph."
Dr Pecoraro encouraged people who might spend more time close together inside over a wet Christmas to wash their hands, to cover their noses and to use tissues rather than handkerchiefs to control the spread of the flu virus.http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/wellbei ... 1970o.html