JABBED: Now is a good time to get vaccinated ahead of the summer flu season.
JABBED: Now is a good time to get vaccinated ahead of the summer flu season. Sarah Harvey

The summer sick season is just around the corner

THE summer flu season is just around the corner, and residents in Gympie and in nearby regions are being urged to take care of themselves as the temperature heats up in the next few weeks.

Having only recently just recovered from a bout of flu himself, Channon St Medical's Dr Rod Day says there had been an increase in the numbers of influenza and rhinovirus cases in town.

"While it's certainly not what I call epidemic levels, there have been a number of cases," he says.

"The common symptoms include sluggishness, a build up of phlegm or mucus and dull but constant headaches."

According to Dr Andrew Langley from the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service, the number of influenza cases across the wider region were actually in decline across a wider area.

"While there certainly have been a number of cases across the region, numbers are declining, consistent with a return to expected numbers between seasons," he said.

However, Dr Langley also notes that the symptoms for other respiratory illnesses, including rhinovirus can be largely indistinguishable from influenza, at least on initial examination.

In addition to the flu, there has also been an increase in the number of gastrointestinal illnesses across the region as well.

With a reported increase from 14 cases to around 22 a week, there have been attempts to see if the rise can be attributed to a common source of exposure.

"We contacted several cases to see," Dr Langley says, "but we were unable to identify common sources."

However, he did say a possible explanation for the increase may have something to do with the higher-than-average temperatures lately.

"It should be noted that with the hotter and more humid weather as we approach summer, bacteria in food can multiply," he says.

"This can often lead to greater cases of gastrointestinal illness."

Residents are being urged to wash their hands and keep perishable foods out of the open until it's ready to be consumed to avoid illness over the holiday season.