Spike in flu cases prompt doctors' concerns about Rocky Show
MOUNT Archer Medical Centre's Dr Matt Franke is urging Central Queenslanders to get vaccinated as flu numbers rise to over 200 per cent from last year's figures.
From June 2 last year, to June 9 this year, laboratory-confirmed cases in CQ saw a surge from 126 to 421 cases.
Although Dr Franke said the number of cases he was seeing was of "outbreak proportions", a CQ Health Public Health Physician said the current flu status for CQ had "endemic potential".
An outbreak is categorised as a surge in cases where there are clusters of confirmed patients linked to each other.
The current status of the virus shows that the cases are sporadic individual community cases.
"To clinically diagnose influenza, we have to do a nose swab and a few days later it comes back as either positive or negative," Dr Franke said.
"There have been 10-12 people come in during the last three weeks and five of those patients tested positive for Influenza A.
"To date up to January I hadn't seen any cases and at this time of the year, it's one to two patients higher than I would expect."
The Rockhampton Show was cause for concern for the doctor, who said those who are yet to be vaccinated should be wary if they were considering attending.
"If they haven't had a flu shot, they should stay away from the show," Dr Franke said.
"Normally people get a viral cold from the show but given the number of influenza cases, it will be a cooking pot for influenza this year, particularly for young kids under five who haven't had the shot.
"They are sitting ducks for getting it, at a big event with a lot of people walking around in a big setting.
"If they're going to go, consider wearing a face mask... and use good hand hygiene. Before eating, wash your hands or use hand sanitiser."
Although Dr Franke could not pinpoint the root cause of the increase, he thought a delay in vaccinations may have been a contributing factor.
"Flu season is always difficult to predict but one thing we were seeing was authorities and doctors saying the season is often later in the year and to hold off until May to vaccinate," he said.
"Maybe because people didn't get in early with vaccinations, there was less protection."
A common question Dr Franke said he is asked how to tell the difference between the common cold and the flu.
"The difference is, with a cold you get more of a blocked or runny nose, a headache. You feel a bit off," he said.
"With influenza, it's more fatigue, fevers with chills and shivers, and a cough which can cause pneumonia symptoms.
"If we get it early enough, we can treat with Tamiflu, which is an inhibitor of the virus and has to be given within the first 48 hours.
"It's for patients that are high risk and more at risk being admitted to hospital: children less than five, people older than 65, people with asthma, diabetes, heart disease, compromised immunity."
Two sisters, aged four and five, came into the centre with fevers and lethargy earlier this week, and after nose swabs they were found to be positive for influenza.
Dr Franke administered Tamiflu immediately to reduce the severity of the virus and slow down the symptoms.
The girls' conditions are yet to be confirmed, but they have not been back to the centre yet.
Of the five patients Dr Franke confirmed had influenza, one was admitted to hospital.
"Those high risk groups have a 30 to 50 per cent chance of going to hospital if they have influenza and are not having adequate hydration or food," he said.
"Compared to a cold, there's a higher risk of the flu progressing to pneumonia because of dehydration, cough, inflammation of the lungs and bacteria that can stick to the lungs.
"If your immunity is down, they can take hold as a secondary infection."
Dr Franke said if a patient is feeling worse after three to four days after the initial onset of the flu, it is time to seek medical attention.
"People think they can tough it out but if it's getting worse, I'd be worried," he said.
Dr Franke urged anyone exhibiting flu symptoms to visit their GP to be reviewed and arrange for nose swabs to be sent away to confirm the virus.
CQ Public Health Unit Director Gulam Khandaker said those heading to the show should cover their mouth when they cough, dispose of used tissues in the rubbish and use hand sanitiser.
"Flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself, but it takes at least two weeks to become effective, so it is imperative personal hygiene measures are taken," Dr Khandaker said.
"If you are sick with flu-like symptoms please stay at home and especially avoid crowded areas to help prevent the spread."
What you said:
Rockhampton woman Hayleigh Warry knows too well how a flu can turn potentially deadly.
"My partner was in hospital for four nights with pneumonia," Ms Warry said.
Chantal Booth said during the last week of the last school term, she spent eight days in hospital with the Influenza A flu and pneumonia.
Bek Edwards: I've had the flu for 7 weeks, I'm on my 3rd round of antibiotics and just added steroids. It's such a different type of flu to anything I've had before.
Zeanna Jay: Yes my house hold has gotten it. My partner got it first then our two little ones (two years and 3 months at the time) and then I got it. It went away and then bam we got it again.
Allanah Cherie: Sure have sadly usually I get sick then with some meds I'm good again but this time round I was sick got better then got sick again now Its viral with it in my sinus with flem that's now back in my chest which I've got a ridiculous coff with I had got rid of it but it's back in my chest again I can't seem to get rid of it it's so draining oh and a blocked ear to add to it all so all up bein sick for about 4 weeks maybe longer!!!!!
Emma Maree Oliver I tested positive for influenza A a few months ago. I was in hospital for nearly a week and off work for 2 weeks. Could barely move. Wouldn't wish it upon anyone!
Clarice Thomasson: My husband & myself both went down with the flu at the same time,We go to Yeppoon Drs,had to ask a friend to take us we were just to sick to drive,two lots of antibiotics double strength four weeks to recover,wouldn't wish it on anyone. We have now received our flu & pneumonia needle hope that keeps us safe.
Bruce Shanks: Off work for 2 weeks with influenza A.
Shell Ford: I've had the flu for just over 2 weeks, turned into a chest infection and now I've lost my voice. I need to get the flu/pneumonia shot.