Dr Tony Tanious and Chaperone Shalto McNeilage of House Call Doctor.
Dr Tony Tanious and Chaperone Shalto McNeilage of House Call Doctor. Contributed

Flu keeps doctors busy with Gympie house calls

A HIGH number of flu cases across Gympie region kept doctors from the new House Call Doctor service busy across their first weekend operating in the region, a spokesman said yesterday.

A statement released by the after hours provider said House Call Doctor had recently expanded to Gympie after repeated calls from residents fed up with the area being a healthcare "blackspot” in the after hours when it came to home visits.

Is Gympie in the middle of a late flu epidemic?
Is Gympie in the middle of a late flu epidemic? Anna Bizo/Thinkstock

House Call Doctor chief operating officer Craig Glover said nearly half the 30 patients treated across the weekend in Gympie had flu-like symptoms.

House Call Doctor medical director Dr Jesus Lopez said the flu season had arrived a little later than usual but was lasting longer.

Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service public health physician Dr Andrew Langley said the number of influenza cases reported to Queensland Health this year was no higher than other years and indicated we are early in the flu season.

In Queensland, the season typically occurs between May and October, with the cases most commonly peaking in late August, Dr Langley said

For residents of the Gympie council area, there have been 13 cases of influenza reported to Queensland Health this year. This is only the people who see a doctor and are tested.

It is similar to the average of 14 cases at this time of year for the past five years for Gympie Regional Council area. Very recent cases may not have been reported yet. Several other viruses also often cause flu-like symptoms, Dr Langley said.

Across the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service, which also includes the Noosa and Sunshine Coast council areas, there have been 620 notifications of laboratory-confirmed influenza, and (as at July 9) 40 admissions to public hospitals of people with influenza.

Statewide, there were 6700 cases of laboratory-confirmed influenza, with 869 admissions to public hospitals including 81 to ICU (as at July 9). Of the 6700 cases, 81% were for influenza type A and 19% were for type B. Of the type A specimens that were subtyped, 79% were type A/H3N2 and 21% were the pandemic A/H1N1 2009 strain.

Seasons in which subtype A/H3N2 predominate have been associated with more common severe outcomes in older people. Recent notifications suggest type B influenza cases are becoming more common (31% of Queensland's notifications in the recent week) than earlier in the year.

Vaccination is recommended for everyone (except children younger than six months of age) who wants to protect themselves against influenza, and especially for groups at higher risk of severe complications, including:

  • pregnant women during any trimester;
  • adults aged over 65 years old;
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of most ages
  • People with chronic conditions such as diabetes, or respiratory or cardiac conditions.

You can also prevent influenza by:

  • staying home from work, school, childcare and social activities when you are sick - particularly avoid contact with older or unwell people;
  • staying at least 1 metre away from people who have flu-like symptoms;
  • washing your hands regularly, and especially before touching your eyes, nose and mouth, with soap and water or use an alcohol based hand gel;
  • using a tissue, or the inside of your arm, when you cough and sneeze, and throwing tissues away immediately;
  • not sharing items such as cigarettes, cups, lipstick, toys or anything which has come into contact with the mouth or nose;
  • cleaning frequently touched surfaces regularly, such as door handles, taps, tables, benches and fridge doors.

See your doctor or call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) if you:

  • are concerned about your symptoms;
  • are in a high-risk group;
  • have a cough and high fever (38 degrees Celsius or more) that is not improving.

House Call Doctor began in Bundaberg and Hervey Bay two years ago and now has doctors making

bulk-billed house calls in every major regional centre across Queensland.

Doctors make house calls Monday to Friday from 6pm to 8am, after midday Saturday and 24 hours a

day on Sunday and public holidays. Patients can book on 13 55 66, via the free App or book online at

www.housecalldoctor.com.au

Gympie Times


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