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AUSTRALIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (WA)
West Australians are possibly looking at one of the worst flu seasons in recent years, the AMA (WA) warned today.
“It appears that a very serious flu strain has already made its way from overseas to the eastern states, and it’s only a matter of time before this potentially deadly strain is seen in WA,” AMA (WA) President Dr Richard Choong said.
Recent data received from Queensland Health shows that hospital admissions from influenza have doubled when compared to last year’s figures, with most of the flu notifications appearing to be the H1N1 swine flu strain.
“A particularly dry summer has been the main reason WA hasn’t been hit hard by influenza this year,” Dr Choong said.
“However, any traveller arriving in WA could be a carrier, and it’s only a matter of time before we see hospital admissions related to influenza rise,” he said.
Australia has already seen a sudden increase in infections around five times the norm for this time of the year with more than 2500 cases Australia wide.
Dr Choong reminded West Australians that vaccinations should be performed by general practitioners, who have the training necessary to provide this service.
“We believe that general practice is the appropriate location for vaccinations, with the procedure conducted by a highly-trained GP or by an appropriately trained and qualified general practice nurse under the supervision of a GP,” he said.
The flu and its impact on health, especially on the elderly, usually kills around 2800 Australians every year – more than the national road toll.
“We urge all West Australians, particularly those in high risk groups, to be proactive this flu season and get their flu shots when possible,” he said.
High-risk groups can receive the influenza vaccine for free. These “high risk” groups include:
• Children aged from six months to under five years of age in WA
• Pregnant women
• People with an underlying medical condition
• People aged 65 years and older
• Aboriginal Western Australians aged 15 years and older
Good health tips for preventing the spread of influenza:
• Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and always aim into the crook of your elbow
• Use disposable tissues to blow your nose and never reuse
• Regularly clean your hands with soap and water or using hand sanitisers
• Do not share personal items such as drink bottles, cutlery, crockery and towels
• Avoid crowded public places if you are unwell
• Do not send children who are ill to school and daycare centres
• Stay home from work if you are unwell