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Summer flu surge continues

Queensland’s summer flu has continued to persist, with unusually high laboratory confirmed influenza cases.  

Queensland Health’s Senior Medical Officer Communicable Diseases Branch, Dr Jonathan Malo said Queensland has recorded the highest number of summer flu cases in the last five years.

“The flu is always circulating in our community, but we have continued to see higher than usual numbers of lab confirmed influenza cases this summer,” Dr Malo said

“Since 1 January this year, there have been almost 2,600 lab confirmed cases of influenza, compared to an average of 881 confirmed cases for the same period in the previous five years.

“December 2018, also saw a total of 2045 confirmed cases, compared to an average of 534 confirmed cases for the same period in the previous five years.

“We must remain vigilant because, as we’ve seen in the past, flu can occur at any time of the year and every flu season can be different.”

Dr Malo said Queenslanders are advised to take precautions to prevent the spread of the flu – particularly by staying home when ill.

“For many, the flu causes moderate symptoms that ease after a few days, but for others it can lead to severe illness and sometime even death,” he said.

“Children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems are the most at risk.

“It is incredibly important that if you have the flu or are experiencing flu-like symptoms to stay home and focus on getting better – for your own health and the health of others. If symptoms persist or become severe, people should seek medical advice and assistance.”

“I also encourage people to continue practising good health hygiene like washing hands regularly and covering a cough with a tissue.”

Dr Malo said more than 1.2 million government-funded flu vaccines were distributed across the state last year.

“There was extraordinarily high demand for the vaccine by people of all ages last year and that is what we want to see because vaccination is by far the best protection against influenza,” he said.

Free flu vaccine is recommended for pregnant women during any stage of pregnancy.

Influenza notifications in Queensland:

2019 (1 Jan – 10 Feb): 2,594

2018: 15,685

2017: 56,590

2016: 23,284

2015: 28,061

2014: 17,898

2013: 5,509

ENDS

Media contact:            3708 5376

Last updated: 18 February 2019