It’s been the flu season from hell on the Sunshine Coast, with 112 hospitalised and 14 deaths. Photo: File
It’s been the flu season from hell on the Sunshine Coast, with 112 hospitalised and 14 deaths. Photo: File

14 dead as flu season from hell continues to rage

IT'S been the flu season from hell on the Sunshine Coast, with 14 dead and more than 4000 cases reported, but health authorities are warning the dangers aren't over yet.

Despite winter ending on Sunday, the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service is still seeing "relatively large" numbers reported each week.

Between 300-400 people are struck down every week at rates of 3.4 times the average at this time of year for the past five years.

Of the 4062 people who contacted the virus, 112 people were admitted to hospital, 83 per cent to Sunshine Coast University Hospital.

Queensland Health data, as recent as August 16, shows 14 people have died this year from influenza-associated deaths on the Sunshine Coast.

Out of the 95 statewide deaths reported this year, only Brisbane's Metropolitan north and south, 26 and 20 respectively, had more.

Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service public health physician Dr Rosie Muller said comparisons could change during the season, and are related to the timing and numbers of reported cases in this and previous years.

"The early arrival of the influenza season this year, contributed to the 2019 figures being higher earlier in the year compared to the previous years' averages," Dr Muller said.

"The peak of the season is usually in August. However, we are yet to see the decreases we would expect if we were past the peak.

"Relatively large numbers of weekly cases are still being reported to Queensland Health."

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Dr Muller urged residents to be vigilant to protect themselves against the flu.

"It is not too late to vaccinate," she said.

"While the vaccine takes one to two weeks to provide good protection, we still expect there to be a lot of flu around for several weeks to come."

The 2019 flu vaccination is available and free from GPs for people at higher risk of severe outcomes, including children aged six months to five years, people aged 65 years and older, pregnant women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from six months, and people with certain chronic conditions including diabetes and chronic respiratory and cardiac conditions.

Influenza protection

  1. Avoid people who have influenza-like symptoms such as coughing, sneezing and runny nose
  2. Stay home if you are sick. It is especially important not to visit people in hospital or aged care facilities or others who may be particularly vulnerable.
  3. Wash your hands more often and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  4. Cover your cough with a tissue or your arm.