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New flu cases affecting Cooktown

15 March 2019

Health authorities are managing a seasonal spike in flu cases at Cooktown.

Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service Eastern Director of Medical Services Dr Tash Coventry said the health service had recorded at least 14 cases of influenza A in the past month in the Cooktown area alone.

Dr Coventry said the spike in flu cases at Cooktown flu was a continuation of a seasonal spike affecting the whole health service, with cases also reported from Napranum, Weipa, Lockhart River, Coen and Thursday Island.

A total of 119 cases of influenza A have been confirmed so far this year within the Torres and Cape HHS.

“However, notified cases are always only the tip of the iceberg,’’ Dr Coventry said.

“More cases occur who may not be so sick as to go to the doctor or their health service, or may not be tested, with sick certificates being available from pharmacists as well.

“Flu can give you a sudden illness with fever, cough and body pains.

“You need to be vaccinated every year to keep yourself protected, because vaccine protection slowly wears off, and flu strains may change annually so you might not be immune to newer strains.

“This year’s new flu vaccine will be available from early to mid-April, so people should be planning now to get themselves and their children vaccinated.

“Being vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu.

“But good hygiene is also very important.

“The best way to prevent the spread of flu is to wash your hands, cover your coughs, put tissues straight in the bin and stay away from other people if you or they are sick.

“Even one or two metres away will mean coughs and sneezes don’t reach another person’s face.

“If you get the flu you should stay home and rest and drink plenty of fluids until symptoms have resolved, which is usually 5-7 days.’’

Dr Coventry said although most people did not need to see a doctor for the flu, for some it could be a serious illness, especially for high-risk people like young children, old people, pregnant women and people with some illnesses – like breathing problems or diabetes.

“If you or your family member is getting sicker; if they have fast or difficult breathing, chest pains, unusually sleepy or say they are getting worse, then they should go to see a doctor, especially if they are in one of the risk groups,’’ she said.

“While healthy adults usually recover quite well, influenza infection can lead to other medical complications such as pneumonia.’’

Dr Coventry said the new free influenza vaccine would be available from April for all adults aged 65 years and older, all pregnant women, all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged six months and older, and all individuals 6 months and older with medical conditions predisposing them to severe influenza.

“In addition to the Commonwealth-funded vaccination program, the Queensland Government is also funding a Childhood Influenza Program for all children aged from six months to under five years,’’ she said.

Once it begins being distributed in April, this year’s free flu vaccination will be available through Torres and Cape HHS primary health care centres, as well as from other immunisation providers in the region such as private GPs and non-government Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services.

For those that do not meet any of the free annual influenza vaccination criteria, vaccination is recommended for anyone six months of age and older and can be purchased on the private market.

Watch short video on why influenza vaccinations for children are important

Visit Influenza The Flu for more information

Last updated: 3 April 2019