Influenza clusters on Cape York

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Health authorities are managing clusters of influenza cases across Cape York Peninsula, prompting a warning for residents to take precautions to avoid falling ill.

Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service Public Health Medical Officer Dr Allison Hempenstall said 63 laboratory-confirmed cases had been recorded so far this year.

“So, we know flu has started circulating in our region,’’ she said.

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

“Once this year’s seasonal flu vaccine becomes available from April onwards, everyone should take the opportunity to be vaccinated.

“The influenza vaccine is a safe vaccine for children and is offered annually to everyone older than six months of age.

“But good hygiene is also very important in preventing flu, just as it was during the COVID–19 pandemic.

“The best way to prevent the spread of flu is to wash your hands, cover your coughs, put tissues straight in the bin and stay away from other people if you or they are sick.

“Practising social distancing by staying at least 1.5 metres away – as recommended during the recent COVID-19 pandemic – will mean coughs and sneezes don’t reach another person’s face.

“Wearing a mask also is highly recommended to avoid transmitting the flu to others, or to protect yourself from people around you who might have the flu.

“If you get the flu, you should stay home and rest and drink plenty of fluids until symptoms have resolved, which is usually 5-7 days.

“All these measures can help prevent the spread of flu.

“If you or your family member is getting sicker, they may have fast or difficult breathing, have chest pains, be sleepy or say they are getting worse.

“If this happens, they should go to their doctor or clinic, as you may be suitable to receive antiviral treatment.’’

Dr Hempenstall said the flu could be a serious illness, especially for high-risk people like young children, old people, pregnant women, and people with some illnesses – like breathing problems or diabetes.

“While healthy adults usually recover quite well, influenza infection can lead to other medical complications such as pneumonia,’’ she said.