Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Mackay Struck Down with Flu Ready for 'Killer Flu Season'; Mackay Flu Cases Three Times Higher Than Average

Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Mackay Struck Down with Flu Ready for 'Killer Flu Season'; Mackay Flu Cases Three Times Higher Than Average

Article excerpt

EXCLUSIVE: QUEENSLAND'S 2017 killer flu season looks set to be dwarfed, with the rampant disease having already struck down 3242 people this year - almost 300 more than this time last year.

It's the busiest start to a year since 2008 with more than 36 people being diagnosed each day.

Between January 1 and April 1 in 2017 there were 2961 cases, with the year then going on to endure one of the worst influenza seasons on record.

The Mackay Hospital and Health Service has had 127 cases of influenza so far in 2018, which is more than three times the average for this time of year according to Queensland Health.

While Queensland Health has advised people in central and southern parts of the state to get the flu jab from the mid to end of April, Brisbane doctor Deb Mills from Dr Deb the Travel Doctor said people should get it now.

"Basically you can't tell when the flu is going to hit," she said.

"If you wait (to get the vaccine) it's a bit like Russian roulette."

Dr Mills, who has already received her vaccine, said Australia didn't know enough about influenza to be "fussy" about vaccination timing.

"You never know when the thing is coming," she said.

"What if the flu hits in May? I don't think there's any major disadvantage in having it now."

The most up-to-date data shows there were 183 people admitted with the flu to Queensland's public and private acute hospitals in January.

A Queensland Health spokesman said there may be several factors contributing to the high number of cases this year, including increased awareness and the number of tests conducted in public laboratories having almost doubled in the past few years.

The spokesman said the health authority was working hard to prevent a repeat of last years' season and was investing more than $2.3 million to protect communities.

"Our message remains the same: get vaccinated every year because it is the best way of protecting yourself against the flu," he said.

"Although getting vaccinated is the most effective way of avoiding the flu we should not ignore basic practices such as proper hand washing, covering a cough with a tissue or our arm and staying home when we're sick. …

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