The flu virus can have serious side effects.
The flu virus can have serious side effects. Contributed

Clean hands can stop flu's spread

ABOUT 400 Queenslanders died from influenza in 2010 - almost 50 more than the previous year, Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show.

And the Queensland Health website states that each year in Australia, colds and flu cause an estimated 1,500,000 lost work days, 300,000 doctor visits and 18,000 hospitalisations.

With the flu season upon us, St John Ambulance wants to educate the public on the importance of strict infection control at work and home.

St John training manager Darryl Clare said implementing basic infection-control practices could break the chain of infection.

"Infection control is not only about keeping yourself healthy, but also your friends, family and colleagues, too," Mr Clare said.

"Most bacteria are transferred from your hands, so practising basic hygiene principals could mean you don't become one of the deadly statistics."

Germs are spread through everyday contact such as turning the handle of a door, using someone else's dirty pen and even hugging dirty sheets as you take them to the laundry.

"You never know who touched that stair railing, train door lever, shopping trolley handle or magazine at the doctor's surgery before you," Mr Clare said.

"Washing and drying your hands correctly or using anti-bacterial gel will help control the spread of the flu."

Mr Clare warned that people of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, pregnant women, people over the age of 65 and those with respiratory or chronic diseases were at the highest risk.

The influenza virus can also have some serious side effects, including chest infections and pneumonia.

"People often confuse the flu with the common cold, when in fact they are two very different illnesses," Mr Clare said.


Difference between the common cold and influenza:

Common cold: Gradual onset; may have a fever, but generally mild; appetite often normal; runny or blocked nose; sneezing; sore throat and possible earache; feeling lethargic.

Influenza: Rapid onset; fever develops quickly and may be as high as 38-40C; loss of appetite; aching all over with muscle pains; sneezing much less common; may feel nauseous; feeling completely exhausted.


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