South-east braces for flu season peak as Metro South cases triple

JAB: Health experts are urging people to get the flu vaccination as the worst flu season in at least nine years.
JAB: Health experts are urging people to get the flu vaccination as the worst flu season in at least nine years.

THREE times the average number of people have fallen sick with influenza so far this year in the south-east, with the flu season's peak still to come.

The Metro South region - which includes Redland, Logan and Beaudesert hospitals, as well as Princess Alexandra and QEII - has had 2368 lab-confirmed influenza cases so far this year, nearly three times higher than the average from the same period in the past five years.

It came after a mild 2018 season which saw only 15,685 Queensland flu cases reported in the whole year. The total so far in 2019 is approaching 13,000 and data from the past five years suggests the worst could be yet to come.

Discount Drug Stores' professional services pharmacist Melissa Hui said the spike in summer flu cases should act as a strong incentive for Australians to protect themselves coming into the winter season.

"With reports of increased influenza cases and discussions of an even worse flu season, there is no better time to properly prepare and arm yourself against the flu by receiving your annual vaccination," said Ms Hui.

In the Metro South region, 185 people have been admitted to public hospitals so far with the flu, up 100 cases from the five year average in the same period.

Women in their 30s have been struck the hardest, with nearly one per cent getting the flu.

Queensland Health reports that the majority of flu cases occur between June and September and the season was likely to peak in August.

Ms Hui said it was particularly important to prevent the most vulnerable community members from contracting the virus.

"We encourage men and women of all ages to go in store to receive the vaccination, as it's particularly important to make sure you and your loved ones that are most vulnerable to the illness are protected from contracting the virus as well," she said.

"This includes the elderly, young children and pregnant women."

Flu symptoms appear between one and three days after infection and can include fever, sore throat, headaches, fatigue and muscle or joint pain.

In the elderly, symptoms can include confusion, shortness of breath and worsening of a chronic condition.