A DIRE flu season, with more than 200 people diagnosed on average every week in the Riverina after pathology tests, has been highlighted through official data.
NSW Health Department figures for the 20 weeks from late May to October 13 show the Murrumbidgee area, which includes Albury, was among the worst in the state.
Per capita the region was in the top three for 16 of those 20 weeks and for the past five weeks it has been No.1 for flu cases in NSW.
On pure case numbers Murrumbidgee topped NSW in the most recent week with 76 notifications, ahead of Northern Sydney (70) and South Eastern Sydney (57).
From late May to October 13 there has 4289 notifiable flu cases, equating to an average of 214.45 each week.
The Murrumbidgee Local Health District director of public health Tracey Oakman was at a loss to explain the rash of cases.
"It's difficult to know why we've seen such a high rate - we had a really good uptake in the vaccine," she said.
"It's a bit hard to tell why we would have a different number to anywhere else, maybe people were tested more.
"It's possible people had good access to pathology to get tests so it becomes part of the data.
"A lot of people would go to the doctor and be diagnosed with the flu and not be tested, so those people don't form part of the data."
Ms Oakman said the peak flu period was from late June, four weeks earlier than usual.
She said that data would influence when vaccines were distributed next year, given there were concerns their effectiveness may be limited after three months.
A peak 385 notifications occurred in the week ending July 14 with the previous week having 344.
As the flu impact eases, Ms Oakman has warned that pollen counts are raising concerns about a bad thunderstorm asthma season over the next four weeks.
"People should be prepared, not alarmed, and anyone with diagnosed asthma should carry their asthma medication with them at all times during this high risk period," she said.
The public health unit will monitor storm activity and pollen count levels and issue alerts at high risk times.
Charles Sturt University has a SMS alert system, to register go to: https://science.csu.edu.au/asthma