Flu outbreak continues, worst on record
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.