University of Adelaide to continue monitoring flu activity in Australia
The Australian Sentinel Practices Research Network (ASPREN), based at the university's School of Population, has been charged with this endeavor for more than a decade. By using a network of more than 200 health care providers, ASPREN is able to track all influenza-like illnesses in order to help the country respond to any potential epidemics.
"This work provides vital and timely information to health authorities, and aims to detect outbreaks in the community before they reach epidemic proportions," Nigel Stocks, the director of ASPREN and the head of General Practice at the University of Adelaide, said. "Typically, (general practitioners) will swab test patients exhibiting flu-like symptoms, and the results of these tests help to provide a national picture of the flu virus subtypes circulating in the community. It helps us to track which respiratory viruses are most common at a particular time of year, as well as providing information about the effectiveness of the current flu vaccine."
This latest government contract extends to January 2017.
"This work is critical in terms of being able to monitor and respond to impending pandemics,” Stocks said. "At a local level, it assists in planning for health care and support services when an alert for a pandemic is issued at a national or global level.”