ECHUCA is smack in the middle of Victoria’s worst-affected influenza zone — the overall number of confirmed cases in the state are already up 81 per cent compared to the same time last year.
And those hit hardest by the flu seems to be in the Loddon-Mallee region, which includes Echuca.
The region had 115 confirmed cases of influenza between January 1 and last week, compared to just 57 for all of the previous year.
‘‘We have seen a number of presentations of serious viral illness, of which influenza is the most common, and vaccine preventable,’’ Echuca-Moama Family Medical Practice GP Suzanne Harrison said.
Dr Harrison said influenza could cause serious illness with symptoms such as high fever, respiratory symptoms and muscle pain, resulting in time away from work.
‘‘More importantly, it can cause a life-threatening illness,’’ she said.
‘‘The elderly, the very young and pregnant women are most vulnerable to serious illness and it is certainly not too late to vaccinate.
‘‘General practices and the shire immunisation program will still have stocks of this year’s vaccine available.’’
Alarmingly, despite there being more cases of influenza in the region, fewer people have taken advantage of Campaspe Shire’s immunisation program.
This year, only 1513 flu vaccines were given, compared to 1713 doses last year.
Flu vaccines are available through the shire’s immunisation sessions at $30 per dose.
The next session will be held on Thursday, from 6pm to 7pm at Echuca library.
Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection, spread by contact with fluids from coughs and sneezes.
The most common symptoms of the flu are sudden high fever, a dry cough, body aches and feeling very tired and weak.
Infections in children may also be associated with gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.