With a month of the flu season left to go, Australia is only 110 confirmed influenza infections away from smashing the record for the largest number of cases in a year.
There have been 100,480 confirmed cases of influenza in Australia this year, according to data from the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System.
And the real number is much higher, health authorities say.
The official number includes only cases in which a sufferer has been to their doctor and received a diagnosis.
Unusually, four strains of the virus are circulating this year, infecting young and old.
In a little more than a week, 71,256 more new cases were reported.
The previous record season was 2015 when 100,590 cases were recorded for the entire year.
Statistics on flu infection cases are only reliable for the past 15 years, authorities say.
“I think we’re at the peak right now. This is certainly going to be the biggest year on record in terms of lab-confirmed cases – we’re only about 100 cases off exceeding 2015. It’s very big,” said Immunisation Coalition chief executive Kim Sampson.
“It’s been really challenging for hospitals right across the country. It blocks beds. It’s very hard to manage when you get this kind of onslaught.”
Flu season generally peaks between July and September, before dropping off in October, Mr Sampson said.
For many, flu leads to a mild case of the sniffles, fever and a cough. But for the very young and very old, as well as pregnant women, influenza can be lethal because it can lead to such complications as pneumonia.
Three people, aged 81, 94 and 103, died last month after an influenza outbreak in their nursing home in Mulgrave, Victoria.
The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services says it has been notified of 177 flu outbreaks in child-care centres, hospitals and aged-care homes this year, up from 77 for the same period last year.