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Nothing to sneeze at: New South Wales records worst flu season

By Kate Thomas

 

With a month of the flu season left to go, New South Wales has smashed the number for the largest number of influenza cases in a year.

 

NSW Health has reported nearly 60,000 cases of the flu has been confirmed in NSW so far in 2017, surpassing and almost doubling the amount of 35,538 cases diagnosed in 2016.

 

Health authorities say the real number is much higher.

 

The official number only includes cases in which an individual has received a diagnosis from a doctor.

 

This flu season has seen hospital waiting rooms receive an increased amount in patient numbers.

Bathurst Base Hospital in surge mode Source: Western Advocate

Bathurst Base Hospital is one regional centre in NSW dealing with the brunt of influenza crisis, one medical professional said.

 

“We have entered surge mode, which means we are struggling for beds.”

 

In a ward that normally houses twenty patients is now holding thirty. The hospital has needed to adjust in order to support increasing number of patients with influenza, said the medical professional.

 

It’s not common but it’s more likely people will be hit with a second dose of the flu this year as four strains have been circulating the country, infecting the young, the elderly and the in-between.

What goes into the flu vaccine? Source: The Age

Dr Pavan Phanidra, General Practitioner at OCHRE Health in Bathurst, said people with flu symptoms should take extra measures to try and avoid passing on the infection.

 

“covering coughs and sneezes, and washing hands are just some of the simple steps people can take to stop the spread of the flu,” he said.

A how-to guide to covering up coughs and sneezes. Source: Department of Health & Human Services

But vaccination is the best thing that we can do to protect ourselves.

 

Dr Phanidra says in the case of the influenza virus, “the best thing that you can do to prevent contracting it is to be vaccinated.”

Have you had the flu jab yet? Source: Getty images

Government-subsidised vaccines are available through the national influenza program to those most at risk, such as the elderly, children under three years, people with chronic health conditions and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

But you can also get an appointment with your general practitioner, with cost depending on the type of vaccine you receive.