Influenza numbers four times higher at Redland Hospital this year than in 2018

TESTING: Redland Hospital supervising scientist Greg Preeo and pathology scientist Kylie Stephenson test influenza samples.
TESTING: Redland Hospital supervising scientist Greg Preeo and pathology scientist Kylie Stephenson test influenza samples.

INFLUENZA cases at Redland Hospital's emergency department are more than four times higher than last year.

Health professionals have attributed the numbers, which are higher than in the past four years, to an earlier start to the flu season.

Queensland's influenza season usually occurs between May and October.

Redland Hospital director emergency Dr John Sutherland said 51 people with influenza had gone to the hospital's emergency department in three months compared with 11 for last year.

This year 11 people with flu went to the emergency department in April, 18 in May and 22 in June.

Last year, six people attended in April, four in May and one in June.

Metro South Health Public Health Unit director Dr Kari Jarvinen said the region had experienced higher than usual seasonal flu activity this year compared with the past four years.

He attributed the higher numbers to an earlier start to the season than in previous years and flu numbers persisting at higher levels than usual after the last flu season.

"We have recorded more than 4400 notifications this year to date compared with just over 1000 for the same time last year," Dr Jarvinen said.

"While the number of notifications have been higher than usual, the number of hospitalisations has remained low over the last month."

He said most cases had been caused by Influenza A (87 per cent), with less cases of Influenza B (17 per cent).

Dr Sutherland said that getting a flu shot, good hygiene and staying home when sick could help stop the spread of flu.

"Getting the flu shot is the best thing you can do to protect against flu, so if you haven't already, now's the time," Dr Sutherland said.

He said anyone who got sick should wash hands regularly, cough or sneeze into tissues and keep their distance from others.

"Even if you feel okay, we all need to do our best to protect other members of the community who are particularly vulnerable - like young children and the elderly," Dr Sutherland said.

Free government-funded vaccines are available to eligible Queenslanders like children aged six months to less than five years, pregnant women, persons aged 65 years or older, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people six months and older, persons aged six months and older who have medical conditions that increase the risk of influenza disease complications.

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