Win­ter has ar­rived — with bugs

CHB Mail - - News - BY GE­OR­GIA MAY GIL­BERT­SON geor­gia­may.gil­bert­son@hbto­day.co.nz

Hot soup, scarves, blan­kets, higher power bills and bugs ... Hawke's Bay has been plunged into win­ter and it's go­ing to be a cold one.

Hawke's Bay District Health Board has launched its Beat the Bugs pro­gramme and is en­cour­ag­ing the pub­lic to make use of it.

Many more peo­ple are hav­ing flu vac­ci­na­tions than last year — 2950 com­pared with 250.

Hawke's Bay Hos­pi­tal Emergency Depart­ment head Mark Barlow is pleased with that re­sult.

"It's good that vac­ci­na­tions are be­ing done out in the lo­cal com­mu­nity and some of the com­mu­nity phar­ma­cies are of­fer­ing vac­ci­na­tions to peo­ple over 65 and to preg­nant women as well," he said.

"So we rec­om­mend that peo­ple who are get­ting flu or are at high risk of get­ting flu should have the flu vac­cine."

Dr Barlow said more peo­ple pre­sented to the Emergency Depart­ment dur­ing win­ter.

"It's com­mon to see num­bers in­crease over win­ter. It doesn't just af­fect us, it af­fects gen­eral prac­ti­tion­ers, emergency cen­tres — if we're strug­gling for ca­pac­ity, then other cen­tres will be as well.

"We just want peo­ple to be sen­si­ble this win­ter. Take your med­i­ca­tion if you're on any, es­pe­cially if you have asthma which can al­ways worsen dur­ing the win­ter months.

"Don't go to work if you're sick. Cough­ing and splut­ter­ing all over peo­ple is just go­ing to spread it around."

Dr Barlow said a large num­ber of chil­dren and elderly passed through the hos­pi­tal dur­ing win­ter.

"In kids we no­tice things like asthma and bron­chi­oli­tis, so a lot of res­pi­ra­tory tract and vi­ral res­pi­ra­tory in­fec­tions. They're cer­tainly more com­mon among the younger age group.

"The elderly as well, as they have mul­ti­ple con­di­tions or co­mor­bidi­ties, so if they get flu or a ch­est in­fec­tion it could turn into pneu­mo­nia or they need oxy­gen or hos­pi­tal treat­ment."

Chil­dren, Women and Com­mu­ni­ties service pae­di­a­tri­cian and med­i­cal di­rec­tor Dr Philip Moore said de­spite chil­dren hav­ing a strong im­mune sys­tem, it was vi­tally im­por­tant they stayed healthy dur­ing win­ter.

"Chil­dren's im­mune sys­tems are fully op­er­a­tional from about their first birth­day. Be­fore then they are more vul­ner­a­ble to com­mon vi­ral in­fec­tions.

"Lots of fresh fruit and veges will help chil­dren's im­mune sys­tems func­tion well and elim­i­nate any need for vi­ta­min sup­ple­ments or im­mune boost­ers."

The DHB is also ask­ing elderly pa­tients to keep healthy dur­ing win­ter. Ge­ri­a­tri­cian Dr Lucy Fergus said it was equally im­por­tant for the elderly to have a flu vac­ci­na­tion.

"Older peo­ple are much more vul­ner­a­ble to com­mon win­ter ill­nesses, as age can im­pact on the im­mune sys­tem, and they pick up colds, pneu­mo­nia, flu and gas­troen­teri­tis more eas­ily," she said. "It's very im­por­tant not to wait be­fore get­ting med­i­cal ad­vice or help.

"If an older person be­comes un­well and stops eat­ing and drink­ing, they may need to stop tak­ing some usual med­i­ca­tions tem­po­rar­ily — for ex­am­ple, blood pres­sure med­i­ca­tions and di­uret­ics, as these can make peo­ple de­hy­drated when they are un­well."

GPs and med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers are en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to make use of the af­ter­hours prac­tices. Com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager Anna Kirk said use­ful in­for­ma­tion are on the DHB web­site.

"There's plenty of in­for­ma­tion about our med­i­cal af­ter hours on there. There's a range of GPs that are open af­ter hours. City Med­i­cal in Napier is open 24/7, in Hast­ings they stay open un­til 9pm," she said.

"If you're get­ting sick and it's get­ting worse, you should prob­a­bly get med­i­cal care be­fore it wors­ens rather than wait. You might end up in the hos­pi­tal."

PHOTO / WARREN BUCKLAND

Hawke's Bay Hos­pi­tal head of Emergency Depart­ment (ED) Mark Barlow and ED nurse prac­ti­tioner Sharon Payne talk about the flu virus.

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