Flu out­break con­tin­ues, worst on record

The Free Press (Corowa) - - FRONT PAGE - BY SARAH DEAN

NSW is con­tin­u­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence one of the worst flu sea­sons on record with 3024 con­firmed in­fluenza cases in the Mur­rumbidgee Lo­cal Health Dis­trict area so far this year – al­most triple the same pe­riod last year.

Au­gust is tra­di­tion­ally the worst month for in­fluenza but NSW Shadow Health Min­is­ter Walt Secord told the Free Press that in­fluenza ac­tiv­ity was con­tin­u­ing into spring.

The cur­rent fig­ures show there are 3024 con­firmed cases of in­fluenza in the Mur­rumbidgee Lo­cal Health Dis­trict area from Jan­uary 1 to Oc­to­ber 31, which is com­pared to 1119 cases recorded for the en­tire 12 months of 2016.

Through­out NSW the fig­ures paint the big pic­ture - 102,569 cases con­firmed.

One of the rea­sons be­hind the large out­break is that four strains have been trou­bling NSW while most flu sea­sons are sparked by a sin­gle strain of in­fluenza.

This year the in­fluenza A strains A (H3n2) and A (H1N1) and B strain vari­ants Ya­m­a­gata and Vic­to­ria make up the four strains.

Mr Secord says the state gov­ern­ment had dropped the ball on vac­ci­na­tions and in­fluenza prepa­ra­tions and should learn the les­son of this year, af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the worst year on record.

“Ev­ery year we know the flu sea­son is com­ing and again the state gov­ern­ment has been caught off guard,” he said.

“The state gov­ern­ment was un­pre­pared for it and there should also be an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into if the cor­rect vac­ci­na­tion was se­lected.”

Mr Secord is en­cour­ag­ing those with symp­toms to iso­late them­selves from oth­ers to min­imise the chance of spread­ing the flu.

Adults with in­fluenza are in­fec­tious for up to a week, start­ing the day be­fore they show any symp­toms.

Up un­til Au­gust this year, there have been 123 lab­o­ra­tory-con­firmed in­fluenza out­breaks in in­sti­tu­tions in­clud­ing nurs­ing homes, hos­pi­tal wards, mil­i­tary fa­cil­i­ties and men­tal health/ in­tel­lec­tu­ally dis­abled fa­cil­i­ties in NSW.

There have also been 49 deaths that have been linked to out­breaks in nurs­ing homes, how­ever, those who died had sig­nif­i­cant co­mor­bidi­ties.

Mr Secord is urg­ing those who have not been vac­ci­nated yet to make sure they get one.

The 2017 vac­cine is free to a num­ber of groups in­clud­ing preg­nant women at any stage of preg­nancy; indige­nous peo­ple aged be­tween six months to less than five years and 15 years and over; older in­di­vid­u­als aged 65 years and older and in­di­vid­u­als with chronic med­i­cal con­di­tions.

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