Over 20 people have been admitted to hospital with influenza since April 1 2015, as the ACT begins to enter its most intensive period for the potential spread of the virus.
ACT Chief Health Officer, Dr Paul Kelly said that while he didn’t expect this flu season (2015) to be worse than in 2014, it was important that people be aware of the potential for the virus to spread, and how to avoid that happening.
“There have been over 40 notifications to ACT Health since 1 July, and 20 admissions to hospital since 1 April,” Dr Kelly said.
“During 2014 there were 1,254 notifications of influenza in the ACT, which was a 128 per cent increase over 2013 notifications. Last year between April and October, there were 189 flu admissions to ACT hospitals, 17 per cent of these directly admitted to ICU. This shows that the flu can be a very severe illness and worth avoiding.”
Dr Kelly had this advice for Canberrans wanting to know what they can do to help stop the spread of the virus.
“If you become unwell with a flu-like illness (with symptoms including cough, fever and muscle aches), there are several things you can do to help stop spreading the disease to others, such as:
- Staying away from childcare, school, work and other social activities until you are well;
- Covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and disposing of soiled tissues in the bin immediately after use;
- Using an alcohol based hand rub, or washing your hands regularly with soap and water; and
- Seeking medical advice from your General Practitioner (GP).
“The influenza virus can survive for more than eight hours on hard surfaces such as a lift button or light switch, a telephone, the photocopier or the handle of a supermarket trolley.
“Touching contaminated surfaces (including hands) and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes can also lead to infection.
“It’s not too late to receive the flu vaccination. Flu vaccination is the single most effective measure people can take to prevent the spread of influenza in the community, and immunisation is recommended for anyone wanting to avoid being sick with the flu,” Dr Kelly said.