Flu patients fill surgeries
By Julie-anne Scott
A FLU epidemic means staff at local hospitals and GP clinics have not got time to sneeze.
Schools and workplaces are suffering large absence rates and doctors' surgeries are booked out as the Whitsunday region copes with a bad flu season.
The epidemic has caused alarm among the community after several children around Australia have died from the strain.
Parents are being urged to take their children straight to hospital or their GP if flu symptoms are displayed.
Airlie Beach GP Dr Michael McFall said that he has been working seven days a week for the last seven weeks dealing with flu cases.
"I have seen more flu cases in the last seven weeks than I have seen over the last three years and the flu is turning to pneumonia in five percent of these patients," Dr McFall said.
"The young and the elderly are more susceptible than others but everyone should get their flu vaccine this year."
"This bout of the flu has been going for seven weeks now and I hope it will stop in the next few weeks."
A Queensland Health (QH) spokesperson said there were only six notified cases of influenza in the Mackay Health Service District from March 1 to July 30.
Queensland Health revealed that the number of flu cases was expected to spike over the next few weeks before easing off at the end of August as the weather warms up.
QH recommends a few simple steps to limit the spread of the flu virus.
"People with the flu should always cough and sneeze into a disposable tissue, discard the tissue after use and then wash their hands with soap and water," a QH spokesperson said.
"Flu vaccinations are a good preventative measure for adults and are available from general practitioners, and as the influenza virus changes frequently, people need to get vaccinated every year to maintain their immunity."
Flu vaccines are only recommended for children who have co-existing medical conditions such as lung or heart disease or diabetes.
Patients are being told to stay hydrated and rest as much as possible.