HELP STOP THE SPREAD OF INFLUENZA!

WHAT IS INFLUENZA (THE FLU)?

INFLUENZA is a highly contagious viral infection that can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications, including pneumonia. INFLUENZA is spread by contact with fluids from coughs and sneezes.

Influenza is caused by infection with INFLUENZA viruses A, B and rarely C. It mainly affects the throat and lungs, but can also cause problems with the heart and rest of the body, especially in people with other health problems. INFLUENZA viruses regularly change, causing epidemics each winter.

The “swine flu” virus – also known as INFLUENZA A (H1N1) – emerged in 2009 and caused the first influenza pandemic in more than 40 years. However, it is now a regular human INFLUENZA virus that continues to circulate seasonally worldwide. The current seasonal INFLUENZA vaccine has been designed to include protection against the swine flu virus.

It is estimated that INFLUENZA contributes to over 3,000 deaths in Australia each year.

 

 

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A COLD AND INFLUENZA?

INFLUENZA and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses but they are caused by different viruses. Because these two types of illnesses have similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. In general, INFLUENZA is worse than the common cold, and symptoms are more intense. Colds are usually milder than INFLUENZA. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations. INFLUENZA can have very serious associated complications.

Because colds and INFLUENZA share many symptoms, it can be difficult (or even impossible) to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Special tests that usually must be done within the first few days of illness can tell if a person has the INFLUENZA.

What are the symptoms of the flu versus the symptoms of a cold?

Cold symptoms are usually milder than the symptoms of INFLUENZA. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems.

WHO IS AT RISK?

Anyone can get INFLUENZA. The elderly, people with other illnesses (such as heart disease, lung disease or diabetes) and small children are more likely to develop complications.

 

HOW IS IT SPREAD?

The virus is mainly spread from person to person through droplets after an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through touching (e.g., when a person shakes hands with another). It is easier to catch INFLUENZA in confined or crowded spaces.

 

A person with INFLUENZA is contagious from the day before, until a few days after symptoms begin. One of the most effective ways to protect you, your friends and family from INFLUENZA is to practise good personal hygiene.

 

HOW IS IT PREVENTED?

6 simple ways to prevent the spread of influenza:

  • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough
  • Wash your hands
  • Don’t share personal items
  • Clean surfaces
  • Avoid close contact with others
  • Have your annual Flu Vaccine!

 Annual immunisation against INFLUENZA is recommended for all people from six months of age.

 

Some people are eligible for free INFLUENZA vaccinations each year under the National Immunisation Program. The Victorian government funded vaccine program has funded the INFLUENZA vaccine for all children aged six months to less than five years.

 

The vaccine is not 100 per cent effective but it does provide a high level of protection and can reduce symptoms in those still getting sick.

Anyone in the following ‘at-risk’ groups with flu-like symptoms should see their doctor as soon as possible. The INFLUENZA vaccine is funded by the Victorian Government (FREE) for the following ‘at-risk’ groups:

  • pregnant women (at any stage of pregnancy)
  • people aged over 65
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from 6 months of age
  • all children aged 6 months to less than 5 years of age
  • people with chronic medical conditions.

 

INFLUENZA VACCINE

To continue to provide the best possible protection for those 65 years and over, an enhanced trivalent vaccine, Fluad® (Seqirus), is being supplied for those aged 65 years and over.

The quadrivalent influenza vaccines for the Australian 2019 season contain the following four virus strains:

  • A (H1N1): an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09 like virus
  • A (H3N2): an A/Switzerland/8060/2017(H3N2) like virus
  • B: a B/Phuket/3073/2013 – like virus**
  • B: a B/Colorado/06/2017 – like virus

** not included in Fluzone High Dose® or Fluad® for people aged 65 years and over

 

TIMING OF VACCINATION

Annual vaccination is recommended before the onset of each INFLUENZA season. Most people will develop immunity within two to three weeks of vaccination.

As INFLUENZA usually occurs from June, with the peak around August, vaccinating from mid-April 2019 will allow people to develop immunity before INFLUENZA transmission is at its peak. While protection is generally expected to last for the whole season, optimal protection against INFLUENZA occurs within the first 3 to 4 months following vaccination.

It is never too late to vaccinate since INFLUENZA can circulate all year round.

You can also speak with your doctor for advice on the best time to receive your vaccine, based on your individual circumstances.

Re-vaccination later in the same season for individuals who have already received vaccination is not recommended, although not contraindicated.

Private INFLUENZA vaccines are available at the following clinics for a cost of $15.00+gst, for all patients who are not eligible for Government Funded.

MyClinic Bacchus Marsh, MyClinic Elsternwick, MyClinic Southbank, MyClinic Melbourne, MyClinic St Kilda, MyClinic South Yarra & MyClinic Prahran.

All other MyClinics will provide a script to purchase from the pharmacy.

 

HOW CAN I AVOID GIVING INFLUENZA TO OTHER PEOPLE?

Most (otherwise healthy) adults will be able to infect other people up to seven days after becoming sick, so the best way to avoid spreading the flu is to stay at home while you are unwell. In particular, avoid going to work or school or visiting busy public places. Avoid sharing linens, eating utensils and dishes. Perform good cough etiquette at all times. This includes coughing into a tissue and disposing of it immediately, or coughing into your sleeve. Good hand hygiene is also important. Wash your hands regularly using soap and water, particularly if you cough into your hands.

6 simple ways to prevent the spread of INFLUENZA:

  • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough
  • Wash your hands
  • Don’t share personal items
  • Clean surfaces
  • Avoid close contact with others
  • Have your annual Flu Vaccine!

 

SYMPTOMS OF INFLUENZA

  • Chills, shivering and fever (temperature over 38 degrees Celsius)
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Dry cough
  • Tiredness
  • Trouble breathing

Symptoms of INFLUENZA hit very quickly and may last for several weeks. A bout of INFLUENZA typically follows this pattern:

  • Days 1–3: Sudden appearance of fever, headache, muscle pain and weakness, dry cough, sore throat and sometimes a stuffy nose.
  • Day 4: Fever and muscle aches decrease. Hoarse, dry or sore throat, cough and possible mild chest discomfort become more noticeable. You may feel tired or flat.
  • Day 8: Symptoms decrease. Cough and tiredness may last one to two weeks or more.

 

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should avoid contact with other people wherever possible. If you are concerned about your symptoms, or they become worse, you should seek medical advice immediately.

Having INFLUENZA is even more likely if you have been in contact with someone who already has it, or have had some other type of exposure such as overseas travel to areas where INFLUENZA outbreaks are occurring.

Whether you have INFLUENZA or another kind of virus, it can only be confirmed by a doctor after a nose or throat swab has returned positive results. The treatment is similar for any ‘flu-like’ illness, but a diagnosis is useful in helping health officials track disease patterns and frequency and will be required where complications have developed.

 

COMPLICATIONS OF INFLUENZA

In some cases of INFLUENZA, severe illness and complications such as pneumonia and bronchitis can develop, which can result in hospitalisation and even death. INFLUENZA can also make some existing medical conditions worse.

Some people are at higher risk of severe complications associated with INFLUENZA. They include:

  • pregnant women
  • people aged over 65
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • all children younger than five years of age
  • people with chronic medical conditions.

Sinus and ear infections are examples of moderate complications INFLUENZA, while pneumonia is a serious INFLUENZA complication that can result from either INFLUENZA virus infection alone or from co-infection of the INFLUENZA virus and bacteria. Other possible serious complications triggered by INFLUENZA can include inflammation of the heart (myocarditis), brain (encephalitis) or muscle (myositis, rhabdomyolysis) tissues, and multi-organ failure (for example, respiratory and kidney failure). INFLUENZA virus infection of the respiratory tract can trigger an extreme inflammatory response in the body and can lead to sepsis, the body’s life-threatening response to infection. INFLUENZA also can make chronic medical problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have INFLUENZA, and people with chronic heart disease may experience a worsening of this condition triggered by INFLUENZA.

 

I THINK I HAVE INFLUENZA!

Most people who are generally healthy won’t need to see their doctor for INFLUENZA. Their immune system will fight the infection and their symptoms will usually clear up on their own.

If you think you have INFLUENZA, try to rest, maintain a good fluid intake, and manage your symptoms. This will help you recover and prevent dehydration.

REMEMBER: A virus cannot be treated with Antibiotics!

Rest – Have plenty of sleep and rest. Stay home from work or study and away from others while you have a cold or flu.

Take simple painkillers – Such as paracetamol, to help relieve headaches, muscles aches and pains and fever. Check the packet or bottle for the right dose.

Keep hydrated (drink plenty of fluids) – This will help keep your throat moist and replace fluid lost due to a fever and sweating. Plenty of water is best. Avoid tea, coffee and alcohol as they will make you more dehydrated.

Eat soft food – If you have a sore throat soft food are easier to swallow. Foods such as chicken soup may help a sore throat and reduce mucous (sticky fluid).

Use nasal drops or spray – This may help to clear a blocked nose in the short term (two to three days). Ask your health care professional what is best for you.

Use gargles and cough lozenges – These can help soothe a sore throat.

See your doctor if you are concerned.

 

Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following:

IN CHILDREN IN ADULTS
o    Fast breathing or trouble breathing

o    Bluish lips or face

o    Ribs pulling in with each breath

o    Chest pain

o    Severe muscle pain (child refuses to walk)

o    Dehydration (no urine for 8 hours, dry mouth, no tears when crying)

o    Not alert or interacting when awake

o    Seizures

o    Fever above 104°F

o    In children less than 12 weeks, any fever

o    Fever or cough that improve but then return or worsen

o    Worsening of chronic medical conditions

o    Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

o    Persistent pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen

o    Persistent dizziness, confusion, inability to arouse

o    Seizures

o    Not urinating

o    Severe muscle pain

o    Severe weakness or unsteadiness

o    Fever or cough that improve but then return or worsen

o    Worsening of chronic medical conditions

 

These lists are not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptom that is concerning.

 

Image result for callIN THE EVENT YOU NEED TO SEE YOUR GP FOR INFLUENZA – PLEASE CALL AHEAD FOR INSTRUCTION FROM RECEPTION.

IN AN EMERGENCY ALWAYS DIAL 000.