Feb 19, 2016

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Family Doctors Plus GPs have already detected some confirmed cases of Influenza A.

Influenza at a glance

Influenza is   

  • a highly contagious virus causing respiratory illness
  • spread by air droplets from coughing or sneezing
  • more than just a cold and can lead to serious complications including death, particularly in the very old and very young,
  • a virus made up of different strains that have the ability to change year to year which is why yearly vaccinations are recommended especially for people who are at risk of serious complications

lady sneezingInfluenza symptoms include

  • high fevers
  • headaches
  • cough
  • muscle and joint aches
  • sore throat
  • nasal congestion

Influenza affects

everyone but the risk of causing complications is greater in high risk groups:

  • >65 years of age
  • <5 years of age
  • Pregnant women
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 15 years of age and over, and between 6 months and 5 years of age
  • people aged six months and over with medical conditions such as severe asthma, lung or heart disease, low immunity, diabetes

Treatment of Influenza

Although there are antiviral medications that may reduce symptoms if taken early on in the disease, vaccination is strongly recommended especially for high risk groups to reduce the risk of infection.

For mild-moderate symptoms-bed rest, fluids and paracetamol. See your doctor if concerns or if you develop a moist cough, severe headaches, shortness of breath or are unable to drink enough fluids.

For severe symptoms-see your doctor, call 000 in an emergency

Influenza vaccination

  • is recommended annually especially for high risk groups, unless there are contraindications
  • is available at Family Doctors Plus
  • contains no live virus
  • is recommended for pregnant women at any stage of the pregnancy
  • should contain the following strains A (H1N1), A (H3N2), B/Brisbane if it is the trivalent or three strain vaccine plus B/Phuket if it is the quadrivalent or four strain vaccine, thus the four strain vaccine protects against one more strain
  • The Minister for Health Sussan Ley MP announced that the Government vaccine for 2016 should be the four strain vaccine (it was only the three strain vaccine in 2015)
  • can be used in children from 6 months of age. Children who are 8 years of age and younger require 2 doses at least 4 weeks apart on the first year they receive the vaccination. The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation does not recommend the use of bioCSL Fluvax in children under 5.

Please see one of our doctors if you need more advice on influenza

Please call 000 in an emergency

References:

Australian Government, Department of Health- Immunise Australia Program, Therapeutic Goods Administration

Better Health Channel, Victoria

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