Published: Friday 05 June 2020
Tracking the spread of influenza in Australia is about to receive a double boost.
A first-ever twins-specific online survey has been launched by FluTracking, an initiative funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health.
FluTracking monitors the spread of influenza-like illness, with the help of 140,000 online volunteers, across Australia and New Zealand. It provides early warning of potential outbreaks and monitors trends during pandemics.
FluTracking has now joined forces with Twins Research Australia to launch the Twins FluTracking Survey. The survey has been developed exclusively for twins and higher order multiples (triplets, quadruplets and above) of all ages – identical and fraternal – and parents of twins and HOMs Australia-wide.
Participants are emailed a weekly online survey - which takes as little as 10-15 seconds to complete - to report if they’ve had flu-like symptoms in the past week. The survey runs during the usual influenza season, typically from April to October.
“Twins can provide special insights into the interplay between genes and environment in determining people’s experience of flu-like symptoms and whether they get the flu injection or not,” Director of Twins Research Australia, Professor John Hopper said.
“This has great implications for improving vaccination campaigns, as it tells researchers whether members of the same family are more or less likely to get vaccinated, and why.”
FluTracking Coordinator, Public Health Physician Dr Craig Dalton, said the initiative was excited to collaborate with Twins Research Australia and its nearly 80,000 twin members.
“We are looking forward to collaborating with a very experienced research group that may provide unique insights for us and new ways to look at our data, and help us reflect on the way we do our work,” Dr Dalton said.
The FluTracking.net project is a joint initiative of the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Population Health, and Hunter Medical Research Institute. FluTracking is funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health.