Reported cases of croup and pneumonia also on the rise
The flu is not the only illness Australians need to be concerned about this winter, with health authorities, home doctors, and pharmacies reporting a spike in cases of pneumonia and croup this winter.
However it’s believed the increase in confirmed cases is linked to this year’s deadly flu season.
According to Geoff Pearce, a senior medical officer in the emergency department at the Queensland Children’s Hospital, it’s already been a busy year for respiratory presentations.
“Every night we would see half a dozen cases of croup,” he said.
Confirmed cases of croup have increased by 15 per cent (%) in Queensland public hospitals compared to similar periods over the past three years, while pneumonia cases are also higher than this time last year.
What you need to know
Croup is an inflammation of air passages in children caused by a virus called parainfluenza. House call doctors and medical centres believe the recent increase in cases may be due to the pairing of parainfluenza with influenza.
The condition mostly affects children between six months and five years old and can be identified by a harsh, barking cough. Some children will also make a squeaky, high-pitched noise when they breathe.
No treatment is necessary for mild croup, but the condition can worsen quickly. Health experts recommend carers seek medical attention immediately if a child is having breathing problems.
Pneumonia is a lung infection caused by a virus or bacteria and is typically associated with influenza. Anyone can contract the infection, though it is more common in young children and the elderly.
Symptoms differ depending on age and the severity of the condition, but can include rapid breathing, fever, breathing difficulties, general malaise, loss of appetite and abdominal pain.
If your child is recovering well from a cold or flu but relapses, this may indicate a chest infection. Seek medical attention immediately as pneumonia can be life-threatening to young children.
Those most at risk should be immunised for the flu, to reduce the chance of contracting pneumonia.
If you think you may have any of the above symptoms, contact your local after-hours doctor and book your fully bulk-billed appointment now.