Almost 15,000 Queenslanders struck by flu as cases spike

11th August 2017 10:11 AM
There have been almost 4000 reported flu cases in southeast Queensland in the last week.
There have been almost 4000 reported flu cases in southeast Queensland in the last week.

THE Queensland Government is poised to enact a hospital management plan, after a huge spike in Queensland influenza cases in the past week.

In what's believed to be one of the state's worst ever flu seasons, more than 3500 people have been struck down in the past week alone.

Health Minister Cameron Dick said it was the second highest number of reported flu notifications in the state's history.

"It's a one-third increase in the total flu numbers in Queensland this year," he said today.

There were 10,831 people ­diagnosed between January and the beginning of August, but during the past week, cases jumped by 3624 to 14,455.

Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital emergency specialist Dr David Rosengren said it had been a particularly bad flu season.

"This year we are seeing a significant spike," he said.

He said 75 per cent of cases this year had been influenza A, which can cause more significant symptoms.

Dr Rosengren said the problem was not that the vaccine wasn't working, it was the people who didn't get the jab.

"Each year the flu vaccine is specifically tailored to the specific strains of flu present in the community, which we identify from the northern hemisphere flu season," Dr Rosengren said.

The increase in Queenslanders with the flu and other illnesses has put more pressure on emergency departments, which experienced a 5.9 per cent in July compared to the same time last year.

Mr Dick said an additional 8399 people presented to hospital last month.

"During the same period we've had 40,360 ambulance arrivals at public hospitals, an increase of almost five per cent compared to last year," he said.

The health minister urged people to protect themselves against the flu by practising good hygiene and getting vaccinated.

But Mr Dick also repeated his request for patients, particularly those with the flu, to reconsider their need to go to hospital and instead see their GP.

"This is probably the peak of the flu season that we are about to reach," he said.

The State Government started rolling out its $10 million Southeast Queensland Emergency Action Plan in July in a bid to reduce the burden on hospitals.

Mr Dick said 40 additional paramedics were being hired and more nurses were being placed in emergency departments.

"This action plan is certainly going a long way to help meet this increasing demand but we also need support from the community, which is why we're asking the public to keep our ambulances and emergency departments for emergencies only," he said.