AVOID DISASTER: Health authorities have already received more than twice the number of reported flu cases for the Gympie region this year.
AVOID DISASTER: Health authorities have already received more than twice the number of reported flu cases for the Gympie region this year. iStock

Killer flu strikes the Gympie region

AS THE Gympie region braces for this year's killer flu season to peak, the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service revealed yesterday reported cases of the flu in Gympie were already more than twice as high.

Australia is predicted to see two million flu cases this year, about 8 per cent of the population.

So far in the Gympie region (to 5 May), there have been 32 cases of influenza reported to Queensland Health.

"This is only the people who have seen a doctor and had their influenza confirmed by a laboratory test," SCHHS physician Dr Andrew Langley said yesterday.

"This year's count is 2.3 times the average at this time of year for the past five years (14 notified cases) - last year, there were 39 reported cases and in 2014 to 2017, 16 or fewer reported cases by this time."

Since January 1, there have been 9849 cases reported for Queenslanders.

This is three times the average number at this time of year for the past five years. Across Queensland numbers of reported influenza cases in recent weeks have decreased to about 500 compared with 800 in early April.

Type A influenza has been most common in local (90%) and statewide (94%) reported cases this year, Dr Langley said.

In recent weeks, the numbers of Type B cases have increased, he said.

"While most people recover well from influenza, some people will experience severe outcomes. State-wide this year there have been 823 admissions of patients with influenza to public hospitals, including 38 to Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service hospitals.

"Vaccination is one of the best ways to protect yourself against influenza."

Vaccination is free from GPs for people at higher risk of severe outcomes, including children aged 6 months to 5 years, people aged 65 years and older, pregnant women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from 6 months, and people with certain chronic conditions including diabetes and chronic respiratory and cardiac conditions.

To protect against influenza, it is also important to:

1. Avoid people who have influenza-like symptoms such as coughing, sneezing and runny nose

2. Stay home if you are sick. It is especially important not to visit people in hospital or aged care facilities or others who may be particularly vulnerable.

3. Wash your hands more often and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.

4. Cover your cough with a tissue or your arm.