Australia Cold & Flu Season:

INFLUENZA (Good Hand Hygiene and Flu vaccine are the best way to protect you from getting sick!) according to Healthdirect

Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory virus which can make us sick. Influenza has 2 main types: Type A and Type B with sub-types (H1 through H18 and N1 through N11 respectively) or sub-strains. The majority of people affected usually recuperate in a few days to a week.

A person can contract the flu anytime, but mainly during the colder months in Australia (April-October) as stated on the Healthdirect government website. This year the number of cases is anticipated to increase during the July-August. According to the Department of health, fever, sore throat, sinusitis or cough are usually symptoms of the flu. The Department of Health states the best relieve to the symptoms are:

  • resting
  • drinking fluids, particularly water
  • taking paracetamol to reduce pain and fever
  • using decongestant medicines.
  • People with a serious case of the flu may need to go to hospital. Even with treatment, some people with severe flu may die.
  • If diagnosed, you may be given medicines which if given early can help shorten how long illness lasts.

Antibiotics will not help to reduce the sickness as they only kill bacteria, according to the Australian government Health Department Due to the Antimicrobial Resistance program in Australia, the Australian government are trying to educate the public with regards to the correct use of Antibiotics. This can be found on the Antimicrobial Resistance government website.

More information on Influenza, risks, symptoms can be found on the New South Wales Government Health website – Influenza Fact Sheet as well as other state or federal websites.

Currently the Flu season in Australia is at a high level, with a high number of activities reported daily according to Healthdirect website. The main strains Influenza type A (H1N1 and H3N2) reporting at 86 percent of cases and Influenza B appears to be increasing. 1

As a result, the Australian government is strongly promoting to the general public to take preventive measures during this season to help prevent the spread of germs that can cause illness. They also recommend the public get the flu vaccine. The government is offering free vaccination to people with higher risk complications from influenza. More information on this program can be found on the NSW government Health website: Seasonal influenza vaccination 2019

Influenza is classified as a communicable disease and confirmed cases must be reported to the Department of Health. This information is managed by the Office of Health Protection. The Australian Influenza Surveillance Report is available to the public. The report is updated on a fortnightly basis. Also Healthdirect is a service where you can obtain free Australian health advice. They also collect data based on flu-related calls; this information is used to publish the flu 'trend' graph and is shared with the public on their website.

Regardless of whether the culprit is the cold or the flu, here are some helpful tips to help you stay healthy during cold and flu season.

  1. Get your flu vaccine. This is the most important measure you can take. Remember, you can’t get the flu from the flu vaccine because it’s either made with inactivated virus, no virus at all, or a weakened virus that cannot cause illness.
  2. Practice good hand hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser when soap and water are not available.
  3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs from your hands can enter your body through your eyes, nose and mouth.
  4. Cover your cough or sneeze. Cough or sneeze into your sleeve or into a tissue and perform hand hygiene immediately after.
  5. Stay home if you are sick, and limit contact with others as much as possible. A good rule of thumb is to stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone (without the use of fever-reducing medications).
  6. Disinfect and clean surfaces often. Use a product that is formulated to kill the cold and flu virus. This can help reduce the amount of germs present that can make you sick.

1. Australian Influenza Surveillance Report No 05 - week ending 30 June 2019