Qld flu cases soar past 50,000

QUEENSLAND'S confirmed flu cases have soared past 50,000 as the 2019 season continues its march towards being the worst on record based on sheer numbers.

The state's biggest flu year, in terms of laboratory confirmed cases, was in 2017 when 56,592 people were recorded on the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System.

By comparison, last year 15,697 people were diagnosed with influenza in Queensland in what was considered a mild year.

So far this year, 2328 people have been admitted to Queensland public hospitals with the flu, including 226 who required intensive care.

In the past week alone, almost 1200 patients have taken up beds in Queensland public hospitals with the flu.

"That's the equivalent of the entire Tasmanian public hospital system," Health Minister Steven Miles said.

At least 95 flu-related deaths have been recorded in Queensland this season, compared with 43 in 2018.

 

Qld Health Minister Steven Miles begs families to get their flu vaccinations. Picture: Jono Searle, AAP
Qld Health Minister Steven Miles begs families to get their flu vaccinations. Picture: Jono Searle, AAP

"I am begging people, please get yourselves and your families vaccinated, and if you're sick, stay home," Mr Miles said.

Australia-wide, with four months of the year still to go, more than 242,000 cases of flu have been diagnosed in 2019, compared to the 251,163 cases recorded for the whole of 2017.

Children under five are considered particularly susceptible to potentially fatal complications from flu, such as sepsis and pneumonia, because their immune system is still developing and they may lack previous exposure to flu. They also contribute greatly to the spread of flu in the community.

Last year, around a quarter of Queensland children aged six months to less than five years received a free flu vaccine.

"We would really like to see that number much higher this year. I urge parents, if they haven't done so already, to book their children in for a free flu vaccine," a Queensland Health spokeswoman said.

Influenza experts say that although Queensland's flu season appears to have peaked in mid-August, it's still not too late to get vaccinated.