Flu spreads far and wide

Wednesday, 1 August 2012
If you haven’t noticed already, it’s winter and with cold comes the flu and doctors are urging people to vaccinate in what’s shaping up to be a far reaching flu season.

In Victoria, 1000 cases have already been reported this year, up 30% from the 700 at the same time last year, with 9000 cases nationally.

Loren Draught, Infection Control Coordinator at Portland District Health(PDH), said more people are presenting with flu-like symptoms this year at the hospital, but the strain doesn’t appear to be as powerful as other seasons.

“Because it’s milder this year, people might be identified as having flu symptoms but not be diagnosed with the flu” Mrs Drought said.

This means more people are battling through the infection instead of staying home taking care of themselves, she said.  This means the virus will spread quicker and easier.

“More people have it, but it’s not as severe so they’re out and about transferring it, so it’s good and bad at the same time” she said.

Australian Medical Association Victoria President Stephen Parnis said that while the season is well and truly under way, it’s not too late to be immunised, despite the resilience shown by the H3N2 strain of the virus this year.

“The vaccine will still offer some protection from the flu virus and is a worthwhile measure, particularly for at risk groups” Dr Parnis said.

Mrs Dought said a high number of people presenting with flu-like symptoms at PDH belong to that risk group, including seniors and people with chronic conditions of the lung, like asthma.

Washing hands with soap and covering your nose and mouth while sneezing and coughing will help prevent transmission of the flu, Mrs Drought said, and she reiterated the AMA’s stance, reminding people that it’s not too late to be immunised for this season.

Flu immunisation is free for seniors.

STORY BY Huw Cushing, Portland Observer

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