Don’t get sick for Christmas – flu continues in Top End

The seasonal influenza outbreak across the Top End of the Northern Territory is continuing.

Since the beginning of November, there have been more than 700 cases of laboratory-confirmed flu notified to the Department of Health and over 270 of those cases have been hospitalised.

“The flu is continuing at very high levels in urban Darwin and is spreading through remote communities including the Tiwi Islands, West and East Arnhem Land and the Katherine region,” said Dr Vicki Krause, Director at the Centre for Disease Control.

Those at high risk of severe disease who have not yet been immunised are encouraged to get their 2018 flu vaccine now.  It is not too late to be immunised,” she said.

“For those eligible for free vaccine, there is vaccine available through urban GPs, community health centres and remote clinics. For those not eligible for free vaccine, there is a limited supply through some GPs and a few pharmacies but it is best to check with your GP or pharmacy first.”

Eligible people for the free 2018 influenza vaccine include:

  • Pregnant women – any stage of pregnancy
  • All people over 65 years of age.
  • Aboriginal people over 15 years of age
  • Aboriginal children under 5 years of age
  • All people with a chronic medical condition.

There is a treatment available for the flu. It needs to be taken early in the illness to be effective.  People who have flu symptoms and are more at risk of a severe outcome due to chronic disease, pregnancy or old age, or who have increased shortness of breath should seek medical advice early.

Symptoms of seasonal flu include high fevers, runny nose, cough, headache, severe muscle and joint aches and lethargy. It can also cause a sore throat and gastro-intestinal upset. These symptoms are likely to continue for a number of days and people can end up in bed for several days, missing work or unable to enjoy their holidays.

To prevent further spread in the community, those with symptoms are asked to practice good hygiene including frequent hand washing, coughing into their elbow and avoiding contact with others. “With multiple Christmas and Year End celebrations happening at the moment, people with flu-like illness are advised to stay at home to prevent spread to others," Dr Krause said.

For further information about Influenza and the vaccine, please visit the following link: https://nt.gov.au/wellbeing/health-conditions-treatments/viral/influenza

Contact: Tess Nekrasov

Phone: 0427 596 954

Last updated: 18 December 2018