Southern NSW Local Health District is reminding residents to take seriously the risks associated with the winter flu season.
“It is important that people, particularly vulnerable people, take care with regard to influenza,” says SNSWLHD public health director, Tracey Oakman.
“The flu virus is especially dangerous for elderly people, pregnant woman, Aboriginal people, very young children and people with underlying medical conditions.”
Over the past two weeks, there has been a rise in influenza cases in the Goulburn area notified to the local public health unit and presenting to the local emergency department.
This trend is expected to continue over the next two months.
“In susceptible people, flu symptoms can quickly progress to become life-threatening,” Ms Oakman said.
In general, the flu is worse than a common cold.
Symptoms such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness and dry cough are more common and intense, and often start suddenly.
Colds are usually milder than the flu. Symptoms generally develop over a longer period.
It is not too late in the season to receive an annual flu vaccine.
It’s free for people:
- over 65 years of age
- pregnant women
- Aboriginal children aged six months to five years
- Aboriginal people aged 15 years and over, and
- all other people older than six months who have medical conditions predisposing them to severe influenza.
If you have the flu, or are around someone who does, it’s important to take the following steps:
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and running water
- Turn away from others and cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough and sneeze; and if a tissue is not available cough or sneeze into your elbow
- Avoid close contact with people who are coughing or have a fever
- Stay at home if you are sick and keep sick children at home from school and other activities.
Ms Oakman reminded those visiting friends and family in hospital or aged care facilities to practice good hand hygiene by using the alcohol based gel or foam provided to reduce the spread of germs.
People who have flu symptoms should postpone visits to hospitals or aged care facilities until they have completely recovered.
Seek health advice and information via the free Health Direct Australia service, staffed by registered nurses 24-hours a day, on 1800 022 222.
For a range of health information visit health.nsw.gov.au