THE Murrumbidgee Local Health District is urging people take the risks associated with the winter flu season seriously.
‘‘The flu season is here and it is important that people, particularly vulnerable people, take care with regard to influenza. The flu virus is especially dangerous for elderly people, pregnant woman, Aboriginal people, very young children and people with underlying medical conditions,’’ public health acting director Tony Burns said.
‘‘Over the past few weeks, there has been an increase in cases in the area, notified to the local public health unit and at the local emergency department. We have also seen a number of outbreaks in aged care facilities. In susceptible people, flu symptoms can quickly progress to become life-threatening,’’ Mr Burns said.
In general, the flu is worse than a common cold, and symptoms such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness, and dry cough are more common and intense, and often start suddenly.
Colds are usually milder than the flu and symptoms generally develop over a longer period.
If you have the flu, or are around someone who does, it’s important to take the following steps;
■Wash your hands regularly with soap and running water;
■Turn away from others and cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough and sneeze, if a tissue is not available cough or sneeze into your elbow;
■Avoid close contact with people who are coughing or have a fever;
■Stay at home if you are sick and keep sick children at home from school and other activities.
Mr Burns reminded those visiting friends and family in the hospital or aged care facilities to practice good hand hygiene by using the alcohol based gel or foam provided to reduce the spread of germs.
People who have flu symptoms should postpone visits to hospitals or aged care facilities until they have completely recovered.
Concerned parents and families can seek health advice and information via the free Health Direct Australia service, staffed by registered nurses 24-hours a day, on 1800022222.
■For information, visit health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/Influenza/Pages/default.aspx