PARTY CARE: Revellers like Mick Dundee, Corinne Davis, Tim Moore, Julie Cortes, Reedy Clark, Terri Craig, George Thoroughgood and Peta Halloran are urged to take care of hygiene at the Muster to avoid contracting the flu.
PARTY CARE: Revellers like Mick Dundee, Corinne Davis, Tim Moore, Julie Cortes, Reedy Clark, Terri Craig, George Thoroughgood and Peta Halloran are urged to take care of hygiene at the Muster to avoid contracting the flu. Troy Jegers

Expert urges care at Muster as flu rate hits 5 times normal

MUSTER party-goers are urged to remember good hygiene with reported flu cases in Gympie almost five times higher than average this year.

There have been 343 influenza cases reported to Queensland Health in the Gympie region so far, 4.7 times the average usually reported at this point in the past five years (72).

It is a rate higher than the average increase across the state, which is 3.5 times higher.

In the Wide Bay and Sunshine Coast health regions, 19 people have died from influenza.

The flu has hit Central Queensland hard this season.
The flu has hit the Gympie region hard this season. Getty Images

Dr Rosie Muller said large numbers of flu cases were reported each week.

"We are either at or near the peak of the influenza season in the Sunshine Coast-Gympie region,” Dr Muller said.

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And at events like the Muster, where thousands of people crowd into one venue, practising good hygiene was essential to keeping yourself healthy.

This included washing hands with soap and water for at least 15 seconds, coughing and sneezing into a tissue or the crook of your elbow to stop the spread of germs, and disposing of those tissues as the virus can live outside the human body for a number of hours.

Dr Muller said vaccinations were one of the best protections but sadly getting one now was not going to help at the Muster.

CHILD VACCINATION: The Mackay region child care centres and kindergarten have shared divided views on whether unvaccinated children should be allowed into their care.
Vaccination is still the best way to avoid getting sick, health experts say. Warren Lynam

"The vaccine takes about two weeks to become effective, therefore having a vaccine this week will not protect those travelling to the Gympie Muster this weekend but will provide ongoing protection for the rest of the flu season,” Dr Muller said.

"We would encourage anyone who is sick to stay home from the Gympie Muster to avoid spreading influenza.”

Those in the 50 and over age range have accounted for 91 of the 95 flu deaths in Queensland this year.

Most reported cases in the state and region are A-type influenza.