Early Season Flu – Prevent the spread
An unseasonally high number of influenza cases has led the Southern District Health Board to reiterate its message to “do what you can to prevent the spread” says Medical Officer of Health Dr Marion Poole.
In the past week high numbers of people with the illness have reported to doctors and community health care facilities. While more than 20 cases have been confirmed through laboratory testing, influenza is not a notifiable disease and most cases are not tested. The strains identified are also circulating in Australia, some Pacific countries and in the northern Hemisphere.
Dr Poole says “this is an unusual time of year for seasonal influenza so everyone needs to be mindful of how they can prevent the spread of the illness as an important way to limit transmission of infection. This year’s seasonal vaccine will be available by 1 April and is a good match with the circulating strains. We encourage people to take up on the opportunity once it becomes available”.
Influenza is a viral infection of the respiratory tract. Symptoms include feeling extremely unwell, a sudden high temperature, headache, general aches and pains, tiredness and a sore throat. Influenza is very infectious and easily spread to other people, especially in the first five days of illness. Influenza viruses can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours.
To reduce the risk of spreading influenza:
- Wash your hands often with warm water and soap.
- Use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze.
- Bin used tissues as quickly as possible.
- Stay at home if you’re unwell, and call your GP practice first.
- Do not put patients and colleagues at risk of picking up an infection.
- Look out for the vaccine.
- Flu vaccine is free for New Zealanders at high risk of complications – pregnant women, people aged 65 and over, and people of any age with long term health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory disease (including asthma), kidney disease and most cancers.
For advice about influenza immunisation visit: www.fighflu.co.nz
For free health advice call Healthline: 0800 611 116