Residents of the Far North are urged to get vaccinations as another person dies from the flu.
Residents of the Far North are urged to get vaccinations as another person dies from the flu.

Expert warns of major flu surge amid QLD deaths

A TOWNSVILLE public health expert has warned of a new surge in flu cases in the North and is urging people to get vaccinated.

Townsville Public Health Unit acting director Dr Julie Mudd said an "unpredictable and larger than usual" flu season had led to almost 4½ times more confirmed cases this year.

"We're not exactly sure why but part of the issue in Townsville this year has been we've had an increase in flu (cases) right across the year," Dr Mudd said.

"We had a significant peak back in April and we're seeing another kind of peak now but the baseline week-by-week numbers have been larger throughout the year."

The death of a 35-year-old Toowoomba mother this week has sparked new concerns over the potentially fatal virus.

Dr Mudd said getting vaccinated was the best thing people could do to protect themselves.

"While it isn't perfect it is the best available protection," Dr Mudd said.

"It decreases the likelihood of getting flu and if you do get it, it tends to decrease the severity and risk of complications.

"It generally takes about two weeks from the time you have it to its peak effectiveness. If you haven't been vaccinated already it's not too late, particularly for people in the risk groups - the elderly, the young and those with pre-existing chronic disease."

Seven people have died in the Townsville region directly from the flu this year with another 2367 confirmed flu cases. There were 749 cases for the same period in 2018.

Dr Mudd said it was important to understand the flu virus.

"Flu across the year is not unusual in the tropics," she said. "What has been unusual this year is that has occurred in southern states as well.

"Our peak usually follows roughly 10 days after the peak down south because of travel and incubation.

"Flu can be a serious illness. We often talk it down and some people misunderstand a cold as flu but the flu has a much more severe and sudden onset."

Dr Mudd urged anyone with concerns over their flu symptoms to seek medical help.


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