Bathurst seeing fewer influenza cases during 2018 flu season

FILE PHOTO: Flu season.
FILE PHOTO: Flu season.

CASES of influenza remain low in NSW, but people are still encouraged to take measures to protect themselves from getting sick during flu season. 

Western NSW Local Health District manager for Health Protection, Priscilla Stanley, said that in the week ending July 22, there had been 59 people seen at Bathurst Hospital with respiratory and flu-like illnesses, around 10 less than expected for this time of year.

“Last year we saw the highest influenza activity in Australia in almost a decade, mirroring a global trend, with more than 250,000 Australians testing positive for influenza and double the normal hospitalisations,” she said.

“While current levels of activity for seasonal illnesses are more consistent with patterns of the years previous to 2017, it is still important that people act to protect themselves from influenza and other winter ailments.

“Influenza case numbers continue to remain low in NSW, including across Western NSW Local Health District. Constant surveillance is undertaken to detect and respond to any changes to this trend.”

While the flu season is well under way, there is still time to have the vaccine. 

Ms Stanley said there has been an unprecedented demand for influenza vaccine across the country and NSW Health had distributed almost 2.3 million doses of state and national program influenza vaccines.

This is around 50 percent more than in 2017.

“Flu shots are available for free to members of the community who are pregnant, children from six months to under five years of age, people over 65 years of age, most Aboriginal people and  people who have medical conditions such as severe asthma, diabetes and heart problems,” Ms Stanley said. 

People are reminded not to go to the hospital emergency department unless it is a genuine emergency. 

“Your doctor is in the best position to provide care and treatment for other situations as they are aware of your medical history,” Ms Stanley said.

Tips for staying healthy during flu season

  1. Sneeze into your elbow. This is the best method to stop the spread of germs, preferable to sneezing into your hands. You can also cover your face with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Always throw used tissues in a rubbish bin.
  2. Clean your hands. Wash your hands thoroughly and often. The vest practice is to wash hands for at least 10 seconds, especially after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose, or use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  3. Stay at home when sick. If you are sick with flu, stay at home and avoid close contact with other people to prevent them from also becoming sick. Keep sick children away from school and other activities. Wait at least 24 hours after fever resolves so you that you are unlikely to infect other people.