Warwick Hansen 180Our friend and colleague, Warwick Hansen, is quoted in the SMH this morning "'Winter is usually our busiest time, but there's been no real flu season this year and no real cold snaps, and that's being reflected in a big drop in business". Warwick adds that it's probably the slowest period he's experienced in 47 years.

Winter is traditionally the Grim Reaper's busiest period, according to Charmian Bennett, a specialist in environmental health at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, in Canberra. ''That's because most of the infectious diseases, like the flu and even coughs and colds - which can kill older people - are spread by personal contact, which increases in winter when people tend to spend more time indoors, in closer proximity to one another. But if it's a warm winter then people may spend less time inside, and such diseases don't become as prevalent.''

Sydney is experiencing its warmest winter on record, with an average maximum temperature of 19.5 degrees. Such warming is already affecting when Australians die. In a study published in April this year, Dr Bennett and her fellow researchers discovered there had been a 15 per cent shift towards summer deaths over the past 40 years. ''In the future, it looks like if this pattern continues, that heat-related deaths could outweigh cold-related deaths,'' she said.

The full article is here... (it may be behind a paywall)