Australia's tough flu season could spell trouble for the US this winter, especially with Covid-19 in the mix

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(CNN)Influenza is ever unpredictable. Infectious illness experts similar to hedge their forecasts with a caution: When you've seen 1 flu season, you've seen 1 flu season.

But erstwhile forecasters effort to get a bead connected what influenza mightiness person successful store for North America successful immoderate fixed winter, they look to countries similar Australia and New Zealand, wherever the play typically runs from April to October -- wintertime months successful the Southern Hemisphere.

Yes, you tin  person  Covid-19 and the flu astatine  the aforesaid  time. Here's what that could look   like

This year, Australia had its worst flu play successful 5 years. Cases peaked astir 3 times higher than the mean for that period, and they topped retired astir 2 months earlier than they usually do, according to authoritative authorities surveillance reports.

    Rates of influenza-like unwellness person besides been higher successful New Zealand this twelvemonth than they person been for the past 2 years.

      The US should instrumentality heed, Dr. Anthony Fauci, manager of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Bloomberg News.

      "The Southern Hemisphere has had a beauteous atrocious flu season, and it came connected early," Fauci said. "Influenza -- arsenic we each person experienced implicit galore years -- tin beryllium a superior disease, peculiarly erstwhile you person a atrocious season."

      The US is connected  a Covid plateau, and nary  one's definite   what volition  hap  next

      He said that means the US could spot flu marque a comeback while Covid-19 is inactive circulating astatine higher levels.

        Recent authorities modeling predicts that Covid-19 volition highest again successful aboriginal December.

        If that happens, it would beryllium the archetypal wintertime successful which the US has had to contend with those 2 respiratory viruses circulating unneurotic astatine precocious levels, thing infectious illness experts person cautioned astir since the opening of the pandemic.

        Lower immunity and maskless kids

        When Americans began isolating, societal distancing and masking to dilatory Covid successful aboriginal 2020, flu each but disappeared.

        As radical person returned to their mean routines, flu has staggered back, but cases haven't approached pre-pandemic levels, which means astir of america haven't been exposed to the flu for a fewer years, said Dr. Jennifer Nayak, a pediatric infectious illness specializer astatine the University of Rochester Medical Center.

        "With these fewer mild flu seasons back-to-back, I deliberation immunity successful the colonisation is astir apt little than what it is entering an mean flu season," Nayak said.

        A flu pandemic could beryllium  adjacent    worse than Covid-19 has been, National Academy of Medicine says

        On apical of that, most kids are nary longer wearing masks astatine schools.

        "We cognize that kids are an important root of influenza infections. They get it astatine schoolhouse or day care, and they bring it location to the household," Nayak says. Many adults besides aren't wearing masks oregon avoiding crowded spaces, "so there's a imaginable for much transmission of influenza" this year.

        All of that underscores the request for Americans to get vaccinated. But typically, astir fractional bash not. Just 45% of Americans got their flu shots past season, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Flu vaccination rates fell for respective at-risk groups, including large women and children.

        The US authorities volition motorboat a run this autumn to impulse radical to get their flu shots and updated Covid-19 boosters astatine the aforesaid time.

        Nayak wonders however those nationalist wellness messages -- urging radical to get much vaccines to stave disconnected much infections -- whitethorn dependable to pandemic-weary Americans.

        "I deliberation we person to inactive spot however this plays retired with what our influenza vaccination rates are going to do," she said.

        Flu's load connected society

        All of this is inactive hypothetical. We won't truly cognize for different 8 weeks oregon truthful what the wintertime whitethorn person successful store.

        "I deliberation we've got to support an oculus -- if we're going to person thing analogous to Australia -- to what goes connected successful November," said Jeffrey Shaman, a modeling adept astatine Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. "Do we commencement to spot flu a small earlier than we typically do? And it whitethorn instrumentality off. And of course, connected apical of that, we've got to interest astir however that compiles with the Covid circulating."

        Two co-circulating respiratory viruses could spell occupation for hospitals, which are inactive strained and struggling.

          It could besides mean radical getting viral illnesses that mightiness permission them susceptible to ongoing wellness issues, superior illness and death.

          "Flu has not go an afterthought," Shaman said. "Seasonal flu has and continues to enforce a precise dense load connected society, 1 we would similar to get a grip on."

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