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National community influenza-like illness (ILI) activity has decreased again for the third consecutive week.

ESR’s latest on-line Influenza Intelligence Report for the week ending July 28 shows an on-going drop in rates of GP visits for ILI to below the seasonal baseline level. The surveillance shows that an early seasonal peak of ILI activity has occurred in mid-June to early-July this year.

Nationally, the estimated number of people presenting to GPs with ILI over the last month has almost halved, with numbers dropping from over 2600 people per week at the peak, to just over 1250 in the past week. 

However, ESR Public Health Physician Sarah Jefferies says this does not necessarily mean the end of New Zealand’s influenza season.

Among those tested who have ILI in the community, there is still a high proportion who have an influenza virus rather than other common respiratory viruses, like rhinovirus (a common cold virus).The rate of influenza-positive people presenting to GPs with ILI remains elevated, although this has also been declining in recent weeks. 

Influenza viruses, mostly influenza B/Victoria and A(H3N2), are still circulating in New Zealand.

Dr Jefferies says there is always the possibility of a second surge of influenza activity during a season. National influenza seasonal surveillance continues until the end of September.

Dr Jefferies recommends looking at the Ministry of Health’s influenza webpage. It gives good guidance on how to avoid the spread of the virus, by immunisation and using good personal hygiene like properly covering coughs and sneezes and good hand washing.

The illness characteristically begins with a fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat and headache, and it can lead to serious complications, like pneumonia, in some cases.

For further information view the ESR flu surveillance dashboard

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