State out­break yet to hit North

City spared flu plague

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - CHRISTIE AN­DER­SON christie. an­der­son@ news. com. au

A BLUE­WA­TER grand­mother has pho­tographed one of Aus­tralia’s rarest avian spec­ta­cles, a black kook­aburra.

Bonzenka “Bon­nie” St­eff spot­ted the rare black bird ( above) in her backyard on Mon­day morn­ing and on her front gate later that af­ter­noon.

“We have lived here for 22 years and have never seen one,” she said.

“At first my hus­band thought it was a black crow. It didn’t seem shy at all, stay­ing around for about 20 min­utes as I took pho­to­graphs.

“My hus­band got a video of it sit­ting on the gate with its mother.”

The young bird’s mother had the usual mark­ings of a kook­aburra.

Thuringowa Bird Club pres­i­dent Kel Vid­dle said the sight­ing of a black kook­aburra was rare.

“They are ex­tremely rare — sec­ond only to an al­bino kook­aburra,” he said.

“They are not meant to be black so it is most likely a me­lanis­tic mu­ta­tion.

“When peo­ple hear mu­ta­tion they as­sume the bird is de­formed but the ac­tual phys­i­cal at­tributes aren’t usu­ally af­fected.”

Mr Vid­dle said he be­lieved the con­di­tion may af­fect about one in 10,000 kook­abur­ras.

He said he could not re­call any other sight­ings in Townsville dur­ing his decade with the bird club. “It is a spe­cial sight­ing,” he said. It is un­der­stood a wildlife carer, who also lives in Blue­wa­ter, may have spot­ted the same bird in re­cent weeks. TOWNSVILLE ap­pears to be im­mune to Queens­land’s flu out­break with less cases recorded in 2015 than this time last year.

Statewide the num­ber of peo­ple com­ing down with the flu has risen by 25 per cent while flu cases in Townsville have de­creased com­pared with 2014.

In 2014 be­tween Jan­uary 1 and June 30, 253 peo­ple caught the flu in Townsville com­pared with 237 so far this year.

Townsville Public Health Unit di­rec­tor Dr Steven Dono­hue said vac­ci­na­tion was the best way to pre­vent catch­ing the flu.

“The best way to pro­tect your­self again in­fluenza is to get your an­nual vac­ci­na­tion. There is still time for peo­ple to

“When it was sit­ting on the fence in the af­ter­noon we were ac­tu­ally show­ing the pho­to­graphs to our grand­chil­dren,” she said.

“Then my hus­band called out that it was back so the chil­dren ac­tu­ally got to see it with their own eyes.

“They were rapt.”

In­fluenza vac­cine, pro­tect­ing against

the three top cir­cu­lat­ing strains, is rec­om­mended for ev­ery­one from six months of age

DR STEVEN DONO­HUE

ben­e­fit from in­fluenza vac­cine be­cause the sea­sonal out­break has not re­ally taken off in North Queens­land,” he said.

“In­fluenza vac­cine, pro­tect­ing against the three top cir­cu­lat­ing strains, is rec­om­mended for ev­ery­one from six months of age.”

Statewide 3940 have been di­ag­nosed with the flu com­pared with 2958 this time last year while there have been 34 re­ported flu- re­lated deaths across the coun­try. So far this year, 21 peo­ple in Townsville have been hos­pi­talised for in­fluenza.

The very young or old, preg­nant women, in­dige­nous peo­ple and those with chronic dis­eases are most at risk of con­tract­ing the flu.

Dr Dono­hue said it was im­por­tant peo­ple dis­play­ing symp­toms stay home from work or school.

“In­fluenza is usu­ally spread through in­fected peo­ple cough­ing and sneez­ing, which tem­po­rar­ily con­tam­i­nates the sur­round­ing air and sur­faces with in­fected droplets,” he said.

“The symp­toms of in­fluenza can in­clude fever, cough, mus­cle and joint pain, tired­ness/ ex­treme ex­haus­tion, headache, sore throat.”

To re­ceive a flu vac­ci­na­tion visit a doc­tor or im­mu­ni­sa­tion provider.

For more in­for­ma­tion, visit con­di­tions. health. qld. gov. au.

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