Photo: Dr Kerryn Coleman

Higher than expected influenza notifications around the state have prompted a call for Central
West residents to watch out for coughs and colds and follow simple hygiene measures to
minimise their risks of infection.

Central Queensland Public Health Unit Director Dr Kerryn Coleman said Queensland had
recorded more than 1200 laboratory-confirmed notifications of influenza so far this year since 1
January.

“This is more than twice the number for the same period last year and nearly three times the
mean of about 462 notifications for this time period over the past five years,’’ she said.

“The Central West has recorded 17 cases of laboratory-confirmed influenza so far this year
compared with zero cases for the same time period in each of the past four years.

“A higher rate of flu this early in the year does not necessarily mean a much higher rate of flu
once we get into the traditional flu season between May and October.

“But the fact flu does seem to be circulating more widely offers a timely reminder for Central
West residents to take precautions.

“All residents can play a key role in reducing the spread of the flu virus through vaccination,
practicing cough etiquette and hand hygiene practice as well as staying home to prevent close
contact with other people.’’

Dr Coleman said simple measures to prevent the spread of flu included:

• stay home from work, school and crowded areas when you are sick

• wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcoholbased

hand gel

• use a tissue, or the inside of your arm, when you cough and sneeze

• throw tissues away immediately and wash hands

• stay at least 1 metre away from people who have flu-like symptoms.

Dr Coleman said Central West residents also should take the opportunity to be vaccinated once
this year’s seasonal flu vaccine became available around April.

She said, once available, the seasonal flu vaccine would be free for at-risk groups, including:

• pregnant women

• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged six months to less than five years

• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over

• people aged 65 years and over, and

• people aged six months and over with medical conditions predisposing them to severe
influenza.

“Between being vaccinated and taking simply health and hygiene measures, Central West
residents can minimise their risks of catching the flu this year,’’ Dr Coleman said.

Typical influenza symptoms include:

• sudden fever

• dry cough

• muscle aches and pains

• fatigue

• headache

• sore throat

• stuffy or runny nose.

For further information about flu see:

http://conditions.health.qld.gov.au/HealthCondition/condition/8/118/82/Influenza-The-Flu

ENDS