TAKE CARE: Queensland's summer flu is not going away, with unusually high numbers of laboratory confirmed influenza cases this year.
TAKE CARE: Queensland's summer flu is not going away, with unusually high numbers of laboratory confirmed influenza cases this year. Getty Images

Unusually high numbers succumb to summer flu in Qld

QUEENSLAND'S summer flu is not going away, with unusually high numbers of laboratory confirmed influenza cases this year.

In the Gympie region there have been 10 cases of influenza reported to Queensland Health so far this year - that is, 10 cases that have been reported to health authorities and confirmed in a lab.

By this time of year between 2014 and 2018, there were between zero and 21 cases notified for Gympie residents.

In December 2018, there were 13 cases of influenza reported to Queensland Health for the Gympie region. This compares with 13 cases also in December 2017, and fewer than five cases each in December of 2014-2016.

Queensland Health's Senior Medical Officer Communicable Diseases Branch, Dr Jonathan Malo said Queensland had recorded the highest number of summer flu cases in the last five years.

"The flu is always circulating in our community, but we have continued to see higher than usual numbers of lab confirmed influenza cases this summer,” Dr Malo said.

"Since 1 January this year, there have been almost 2600 lab confirmed cases of influenza, compared to an average of 881 confirmed cases for the same period in the previous five years.

"December 2018, also saw a total of 2045 confirmed cases, compared to an average of 534 confirmed cases for the same period in the previous five years.

"We must remain vigilant because, as we've seen in the past, flu can occur at any time of the year and every flu season can be different.”

Dr Malo said Queenslanders should take precautions to prevent the spread of the flu - particularly by staying home when ill.

"For many, the flu causes moderate symptoms that ease after a few days, but for others it can lead to severe illness and sometime even death,” he said.

"Children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems are the most at risk.

"It is incredibly important that if you have the flu or are experiencing flu-like symptoms to stay home and focus on getting better - for your own health and the health of others. If symptoms persist or become severe, people should seek medical advice and assistance.”

"I also encourage people to continue practising good health hygiene like washing hands regularly and covering a cough with a tissue."

Dr Malo said more than 1.2 million government-funded flu vaccines were distributed across the state last year.

Free flu vaccine is recommended for pregnant women during any stage of pregnancy.

Here is some advice on how to protect yourself from the flu:

1. Get vaccinated. Free vaccine is available for high-risk groups including children up to 5 years of age, people aged 65 years and over, most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, pregnant women, and people with chronic conditions including cardiac and respiratory conditions.

b. If you are concerned about your influenza-like symptoms, consider calling a nurse on 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) or seeing a GP, instead of going to an emergency department.

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

3. Stay home if you're sick. a. It is especially important not to visit people in hospital or aged care facilities who may be particularly vulnerable.

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