Flu cases are inundating emergency departments
(SYDNEY MORNING HERALD) The Australian state of New South Wales is in the midst of its worst flu season on record after more than 8,000 influenza cases were confirmed in the past week alone.
Flu patients were presenting to the state’s emergency departments in greater numbers than ever before, the latest NSW Health Influenza Surveillance Report showed.
A record 18,357 confirmed flu cases were reported between January and July, more than double the number of cases in the same period in 2016.
Flu presentations were “significantly elevated in younger children and older age groups”, the report read.
There were more than 11,200 cases in July alone, compared with 4,431 in July 2016. In the past week, there had been 2,000 more cases than the same week last year.
Hospitals in western Sydney, northern Sydney, Nepean-Blue Mountains and North Sydney were the hardest hit and had the highest rates of flu in the state.
Western Sydney Local Health District emergency departments alone recorded 2428 confirmed cases in July.
Close to 140 influenza outbreaks had been reported in NSW nursing homes so far this year, and more than 50 outbreaks in the past week alone.
A total of 34 deaths were linked to influenza outbreaks among nursing home residents, all of whom had other significant health problems.
Most of the nursing home outbreaks would have started with an unwell family member or friend bringing their flu symptoms with them when they came to visit, NSW Health Director of Communicable Diseases Vicky Sheppeard said.
People with elderly relatives were risking the lives of their loved ones if they visited them while they were unwell with flu symptoms, Dr. Sheppeard said.
“Each year more than 800 people die in NSW from complications associated with influenza and the elderly are particularly vulnerable,” she said.
Flu season is generally considered May to October in Australia and October to May in North America, meaning we have only weeks remaining until the latest round of flu bugs puts the immune systems of U.S. residents to the test. READ FULL STORY AT SYDNEY MORNING HERALD