National flu death toll tops 250

Matt Woodley

8/07/2019 2:50:52 PM

Australia is battling through one of its deadliest flu seasons on record.

Young person with the flu
At least 250 people have died during Australia’s ‘horror flu season’.

The nationwide total of more than 130,000 cases is already more than double 2018’s 12-month tally, and concerns are growing after reports that lab testing has confirmed the H3N2 influenza strain has mutated, potentially impacting the effectiveness of vaccines.
Most recently, a 13-year-old Victorian girl died at home only three days after falling ill with flu-like symptoms, while last week a two-year-old boy in Western Australia lost his life after his condition deteriorated rapidly.
A spate of influenza cases has prompted emergency warnings in South Australia, where to date there have been about 20,000 confirmed cases compared to around 1500 at the same time last year, while New South Wales has urged friends and relatives of aged-care residents to get vaccinated to prevent further outbreaks.
Western Australia has also acted to try and control the virus’ spread by allowing pharmacists to provide influenza vaccinations to children as young as 10, despite concerns from medical groups.
Nearly every state and territory has already surpassed the number of laboratory-confirmed influenza notifications recorded for the entirety of 2018. South Australia, which has had issues with vaccine distribution, has been the most severely affected, with 1154 reported cases per 100,000 people, compared with the national average of nearly 529. 

Flu-Deaths-Graph-Article.jpgSouth Australia has recorded 1154 lab-confirmed influenza cases per 100,000 people so far in 2019, more than double the national average.
At a new influenza awareness campaign launch over the weekend, South Australian Health Minister Stephen Wade said his state has distributed a record number of vaccines and urged people to not take undue risks with their health.
‘This new campaign does a great job of illustrating just how easily the flu can spread,’ he said.
‘The flu virus is spread by human contact and can live up to 48 hours on hard, smooth surfaces such as door handles, playground equipment and desktops.
‘We’re asking all South Australians to remember they … have an important role to play in stopping the spread of flu.’
Meanwhile, NSW health Director of Communicable Disease Dr Vicky Sheppeard has reminded people to consider all available options, such as their local GP or medical centre, to take pressure off the state’s under-pressure emergency departments.
‘The flu season is already making its impact felt around the country, with more patients presenting to NSW emergency departments so far in 2019 than in any other six-month period,’ Dr Sheppeard said.
‘We are again encouraging everyone to take advantage of the free flu vaccine as it is still not too late to get vaccinated. The flu vaccine is still the best protection, and simple hand hygiene is also important.
‘If you are unwell with the flu, stay at home and minimise contact with other people if possible, especially those who are particularly vulnerable, such as the elderly until you have recovered.’
Australian flu deaths by state and territory:

  • NSW: 66
  • SA: 50
  • Vic: 50
  • WA: 41
  • QLD: 38
  • NT: 4
  • ACT: <5
  • Tas: 1

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Dr Ian Light   9/07/2019 11:01:34 AM

I am thinking we need to use more of the anti -vitals like Tamiflu early as soon as we suspect influenza because there are studies that treatment within 12 hours of illness onset is more efficacious than within 48hours .
Also in outbreaks in aged care facilities the Centre for Disease Control USA and the Canadians recommends post and preexposure prophylaxis .
The CDC is claiming a 75-95% relative risk reduction but it has to be in tandem with strict droplet precautions.

Dr Erik Karl Beltz   9/07/2019 11:37:08 AM

I noticed quite a few colleagues prescribing Tamiflu for otherwise healthy patients. Is that best practice or not useful?

Dr Brahmanandan Malapurathattil   9/07/2019 11:48:00 AM

Would like to know about affects of Tamiflu on flu patients

Diane Faulkner-Hill   14/07/2019 10:43:37 PM

I have had only two patients who I swabbed for influenza. Both sick enough to start Tamiflu before confirmation of Influenza A. One a four year old girl. Her mother reported that she improved dramatically after the second dose. The other was one of my daughters aged 36, who had been immunised but has auto-immune disease. She also had Tamiflu and improved, although she was still in bed for about five days.

Dr Mark Frederick Fletcher   26/05/2020 9:56:07 PM

I've got a feeling there will be a more serious bat coronavirus hit the Earth than anything like the flu and its gonna change the world. Mark my words