‘Tis almost the season: cold sweats, sore throats, aching joints and cushiony sinuses. Last year, 23.3% of Australians 14+ reported having the flu in the past 12 months—the lowest result in the last five years. But flu rates in some suburban areas, towns and country regions are consistently around a third higher than the national norm, ranking their residents as among the nation’s most influenzial people, the latest research from Roy Morgan shows.
Three New South Wales regions made the list in 2013: Newcastle (31.9%) just pipped South-Western Sydney (31.8%) as Australia’s flu capital, with Western Sydney (28.8%) in at number five. The flu rate in Newcastle had until last year been close to the national norm, averaging 25.8% from 2009 to 2013, but swelled up by almost 20% in 2013.
South-Western Sydney, however, has now been among the nation’s top five flu hotspots for four consecutive years, with an average annual self-reported flu rate since 2009 of 1 in 3 (33.4%) residents.
Coming in at number three in 2013 is another chronic influenza hotspot: Townsville (31.0%). The tropical region has made the Top Five for the fourth time since 2009.
Queenslanders in non-metro coastal areas are also more prone to suffering the flu (or at least believing they’ve suffered it): 30.4% of them in 2013, giving the area its third consecutive Top Five appearance.
Top Five Flu Hotspots: % of residents who reported having the flu in previous 12 months
Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), January 2009 to December 2013:average annual sample size = 19298 Australians 14+. Regions with an annual sample size under 150 have been excluded.
With two regions each in the top five—and many more reporting above-average rates—New South Wales and Queensland were our most fluey states in 2013, with Western Australia spot on the national average.
• NSW (26.1%)
• QLD (25.1%)
• WA (23.3%)
• TAS (21.8%)
• VIC (19.9%)
• SA (18.2%)
Adelaide has been the capital city with the lowest self-reported rate of flu every year for the last five, while Sydney and Perth have taken turns as Australia’s metropolitan flu capital.
Angela Smith, Group Account Director - Consumer Products, Roy Morgan Research, says:
"One might well associate the flu with blustery southern winters, but Australia’s top five influenza zones are all more northern than the five regions with the lowest proportion of residents reporting the illness.
“These figures are based on survey respondents’ own assertion that they had the flu in the past year, so while rates may indeed be regularly higher in Townsville, it’s possible the area’s tropically adjusted residents are just more likely to over-diagnose a sniffle.
“Roy Morgan Research measures a full range of ailments and health problems across the Australian population. Our data shows trends over time, as well as differences by geographic area, socioeconomic status and demographics, allowing policy-makers, pharmaceutical makers and retailers, and others in the health industry to better understand, provide for and communicate with consumers.”
Roy Morgan Research
Roy Morgan Research is Australia’s best known and longest established market research and public opinion survey company. Roy Morgan Single Source is thorough, accurate, and provides comprehensive, directly applicable information about current and future customers. It is unique in that it directs all the questions to each individual from a base survey sample of around 55,000 interviews in Australia and 15,000 interviews in New Zealand annually - the largest Single Source databases in the world. The questions asked relate to lifestyle and attitudes, media consumption habits (including TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, cinema, catalogues, pay TV and the Internet), brand and product usage, purchase intentions, retail visitations, service provider preferences, financial information and recreation and leisure activities. This lead product is supported by a nationally networked, consultancy-orientated market research capability.
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