Flu bug hits us twice as hard

NOW could be a good time to wear a mask and gloves in public with the flu season in full swing.

Sunshine Coast Public Health Unit director Dr Andrew Langley said there was already a 30% increase on the average 240 influenza notifications on the Coast for this time of the year for the past four years.

As of Monday, 324 people had been officially diagnosed in the Sunshine Coast and Noosa Council areas.

And 28 people had been hospitalised because of influenza, placing a strain on already cramped emergency departments.

The disturbing increase in flu cases was already noted in March.

"During the period 1 January 2014 to 13 March 2014, the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service, which includes Sunshine Coast, Gympie and Noosa Councils, has already recorded more than 50 cases of influenza diagnosed through laboratory testing," Dr Langley said.

"During this same period, approximately 1000 people across the whole of Queensland have tested positive for influenza.

"These figures are about two times higher than the average at this time of year for the past five years."

The figures are also expected to be only a small snapshot of the reality of number of actual flu cases.

"Most of this year's cases in the SCHHS with the subtype identified were H1N1.

"H1N1 circulated widely in the recent northern hemisphere winter and was responsible for the 2009 pandemic."

Dr Langley said the flu was "more than just a common cold and the best protection was vaccination"."This year's flu vaccine has been distributed to General Practitioners (GPs) so people should see their GP for their annual flu vaccine as early as they can," he said.

"The earlier they have the vaccination, the better chance they have of gaining immunity before they may be exposed to influenza."


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