More than 11,000 confirmed cases across the State
With nearly 11,800 confirmed influenza cases around the State and more than 840 people already admitted to Queensland hospitals, the 2019 flu season has begun in full force.
Queensland is on track to surpass the 2018 flu death toll, with 25 deaths this year so far – despite the peak flu season not predicted to strike until July.
What you need to know
According to Chief Health Officer Doctor Jeannette Young there are currently around three-and-a-half times more flu cases than expected for this time of year.
“The flu season varies enormously – last year we saw a relatively mild season, so therefore we would expect to see a worse season this year,” Dr Young said.
“These things come in cycles, we really can’t predict what’s going to happen, which is why it’s so important that people go and have a vaccine.”
So far this year 30 per cent of all House Call Doctor patients have presented flu-like symptoms, while nearly 900 people in Queensland have been admitted to hospital, including the elderly and children.
Health experts believe the deadly increase in confirmed cases may be because there are two different influenza A viruses affecting different age groups circulating at the same time.
Griffith University immunisation expert Professor Paul Van Buynder said one virus is more likely to affect children and young adults, while the other affects the elderly.
Keep Emergency Departments for emergencies
Queenslanders are being reminded to keep Emergency Departments for emergencies following news patients have presented for blisters and splinters and for the purpose of receiving a medical certificate.
Gold Coast Health GP Liaison Officer Carl de Wet said the high number of flu cases meant local doctors were under pressure.
“On average [Gold Coast doctors] deal with close to 500 patients in a day,” Mr de Wet said.
“Most patients with flu or suspected flu will have troubling symptoms but they will not be unwell enough that they will require medical support or an admission. We have had more than 1,500 patients requested a medical certificate, about 1,000 patients attending with a simple blister, almost 3,000 with splinters.
“The reason you might want to go is if you have problems with breathing chest pain or pain that is out of keeping in severity with what you might have experienced before.”
Tips to preventing the flu
- Get the flu vaccination
- Regularly wash your hands
- Cough or sneeze in a tissue or the crook of your arm
- Avoid close contact with people who are unwell
- Stay home from work or school if you’re experiencing flu-like symptoms
- Keep surfaces clean.