AS THE flu season arrives, Queensland has recorded the most flu cases in Australia with experts warning it is vital people protect themselves to prevent infection spreading.
More than 2530 cases have been diagnosed in Queensland with New South Wales the second worst affected state with 2160 cases diagnosed.
Gympie Regional Council medical officer of health Dr Rod Day said yesterday the figures were a warning to Gympie people "at risk" to make sure they had their flu shot each year.
He said many people who thought they had the flu often only had a cold, and many people who had a cold, thought they had the flu.
Colds were usually more centred around the nose and nasal symptoms, while flu symptoms were usually more severe and prolonged, and included muscle aches and pains and high fevers. There has been a 10% rise in diagnosed cases of the flu in Queensland compared to this time last year with experts saying this is only the tip of the iceberg as thousands more cases are going undiagnosed.
To make matters worse, there have also been higher levels of the H3N2 virus in Queensland. This is the strain most likely to cause deaths and increased hospital admissions.
Influenza specialist group chair Dr Alan Hampson said the fact the H3N2 strain hadn't been prominent in the community for a few years could increase this year's severity.
"When we see high levels of H3N2, which is the predominant strain this season, there is significant impact, especially in high risk groups.
"Typically, we can expect to see more deaths and hospital admissions," he said.