HOUSE call doctors have treated a record number of families with the flu during the past week in Gladstone

Last week the home doctor service treated 12 flu cases involving children – up 25 per cent from the week prior – with one case resulting in an entire family of four needing treatment.

House Call Doctor chief executive officer Wayne Ormond said the service has rostered on as many extra doctors as possible to try to cope with the increased demand.

Mr Ormond reiterated the messages from health authorities for families to go to their regular GP and be vaccinated.

There have been 2203 laboratory-confirmed flu notifications involving children younger than five this year, including 169 who required hospital admission and 10 ending up in intensive care, in Queensland this year.

“If you haven’t had your flu shot or had your children vaccinated, visit your GP,” Mr Ormond said.

“Children are heading back to school next week and the worst of the flu season is ahead of us and children, particularly younger children, are susceptible to potentially fatal complications.”

Already, figures provided by Queensland Health show at least 51 influenza-associated deaths in 2019, the youngest in their 20s and 30s. That’s eight more flu deaths than the 43 recorded for the whole of 2018.

But the smaller numbers of flu-related deaths last year occurred against a backdrop of lower-than-usual recorded influenza cases in Queensland, with 15,698 – more than 9000 fewer than notifications so far in 2019. Numbers are expected to climb steeply in the next two months as the peak of the flu season hits.

Although hospitals have been strained with flu cases turning up in emergency departments this year, University of Queensland virologist Ian Mackay blamed the sheer weight of numbers, rather than exceptionally severe flu cases.

He said the unprecedented numbers of laboratory confirmed cases in the first half of 2019 had occurred in conjunction with a highly unusual summer flu season.

He said the reason for the high numbers of summer flu cases in the Southern Hemisphere this year – what he described as an “early flu storm” – were a medical mystery.

The last mammoth summer flu season in Australia was more than two decades ago in 1995.

Original Source: The Gladstone Observer | 15 July 2019

Also published in: Whitsunday Times