FLU SEASON: Influenza is in full force in the Maranoa.
FLU SEASON: Influenza is in full force in the Maranoa. iStock

Influenza surges through the southwest at record pace

A SURGE of influenza cases across southwest Queensland has broken a five year record and put Maranoa doctors on high-alert.

In 2019 so far, there has been 39 laboratory confirmed cases of influenza, including two hospitalisations, a concerning eight times more than in 2018.

Influenza cases in the past five years have fluctuated wildly, in the same time period in 2017 there had been 17 presentations for the infectious disease.

With a five-year average of seven cases normally expected for the year so far, South West Hospital and Health Service Executive Director Dr Tim Smart told the Western Star residents should be on their guard.

"We don't quite know what the trend is going to be but the feeling at the present moment is that it is going to be busier than last year,” Dr Smart said.

"It is very concerning to us, one because it is a debilitating infection and two, because there are a lot of compromised people who live in Roma with the change in our demographics.

"Obviously with an older population and their ability to fend off any infection versus a lot young newborns as well who are going to be most vulnerable.”

Maranoa locals are recommended to be proactive in attempting to prevent the spread of the flu, by washing hands, covering your cough, putting tissues straight into the bin and staying away from people if you are sick.

Dr Smart encouraged everyone to get the flu vaccination as the worst of the flu season draws closer.

"There are a number of general practitioners available in town and we have the hospital should you require the next level of care,” Dr Smart said.

"With this year's flu vaccines now becoming available, southwest residents should be making appointments with their immunisation providers to be vaccinated.

"Being vaccinated every year is the best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu.”

The free flu vaccination is available through South West HHS primary health care centres and other immunisation providers in the region such as private GPs and non-government Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services.

A consultation fee may apply at your GP.