Flu cases filling up emergency departments

Doctors have called on people to get the flu shot ahead of the season peak.
Doctors have called on people to get the flu shot ahead of the season peak. Greg Miller

HEALTH authorities have warned preventable flu cases could swamp emergency departments with 1200 lab-confirmed cases across the Darling Downs so far this year.

Queensland Health figures reveal 1236 people with confirmed influenza cases have attended hospitals across the Downs. And doctors are warning flu season is yet to peak.

The Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service covers the Toowoomba, Warwick, Goondiwindi, Dalby, Chinchilla and Kingaroy regions.

Queensland Health Minister Cameron Dick said there had been a "steep increase” in influenza admissions across the state in the past week and more people were visiting emergency rooms than last winter.

"As of last week there had been 10,831 flu notifications and the past week has seen a steep increase. As of today, we've had 14,455 laboratory-confirmed cases across the state since January - an increase of 3624,” he said.

"Emergency departments are under a lot of pressure statewide, not just from people suffering from the flu. Last month our emergency departments dealt with an additional 8399 presentations - a 5.9% increase in activity on this time last year.”

Australian Medical Association Queensland president Bill Boyd said it was not too late to get the flu shot.

"The vaccine takes two to three weeks to reach maximum effectiveness and the season has yet to reach its peak - so get a flu jab if you haven't already,” he said.

"Most people will recover from flu after a few days, but vulnerable patients can become seriously ill and require hospitalisation.”

Dr Boyd said getting the flu shot could keep you out of busy emergency departments.

"EDs are busy at the best of times and right now hospital doctors and their health service colleagues are fully stretched,” he said.

"If you have a medical problem your first course of action should always be to consult your family doctor. Emergency departments are for emergencies only.”

- NewsRegional

Topics:  cameron dick emergency department flu season flu vaccination influenza

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