Bass Coast Health fighting flu season

Thursday 31 August 2017


Victoria is currently hitting the peak of one of the worst flu seasons, with hospitals and ambulances across the State under increasing pressure from sick patients. Bass Coast Health (BCH) has not been spared, with Wonthaggi Hospital’s Emergency Department facing a significant increase in demand (7% on last year) as we hit the peak of the winter flu season.


The flu season started earlier this year” CEO Jan Child said.  “So far in 2017, there have been more than 10,000 confirmed cases of influenza across the state, with many more notifications still expected.  We have had multiple presentations to our Emergency Department by patients with significant respiratory illnesses, and BCH inpatient areas have experienced 9 recent cases of influenza, including Influenza A, Influenza B and Parainfluenza strains.  This includes an outbreak at our Griffiths Point Lodge aged care facility in San Remo. This outbreak has been successfully contained and managed with the support of our GP’s.  Wonthaggi has to date reported 8 confirmed cases of Influenza A and 3 confirmed cases of Influenza B in its wards.  Across all of BCH, we have had many staff confirmed as having influenza and other respiratory Illnesses, with our staff sick leave at unprecedented levels.”


Jan Child noted that the flu is a highly contagious viral infection, spread by contact with fluids from coughs and sneezes. High risk groups include the elderly, infants, those with chronic conditions such as heart or lung disease, renal failure, diabetes and chronic neurological conditions, the immunocompromised, pregnant women, smokers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In general, people with a respiratory illness can be infectious shortly before signs and symptoms commence and for up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. In some people, such as those who are severely immunocompromised, this may be longer – up to 7 – 10 days.


The most common symptoms of the flu are sudden high fever, a dry cough, body aches, and feeling very tired and weak.  Infections in children may also be associated with gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Croup is a common presentation in children. Most symptoms resolve within seven days, although the cough may persist for longer. Complications of influenza include middle ear infections, secondary bacterial pneumonia and worsening of underlying chronic health conditions. CEO Jan Child said “In an emergency, you should always call 000 or attend the Emergency Department. However, for less urgent cases people are encouraged to visit their local GP, talk to a pharmacist or call Nurse-On-Call on 1300 60 60 24 which is available 24 hours a day.”


“Anyone sick with the flu should avoid visiting loved ones in aged care facilities or hospital, as it can spread quickly. Good hand washing is one of the most important ways to reduce the spread of infectious diseases such as the flu. It is also important to practice good cough etiquette at all times. This includes covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze and disposing of tissues immediately.  Vaccination is vital in stopping the spread of influenza. With about two months of the flu season to go, it is still not too late to get your flu shot.” The influenza vaccine is available from GP’s and also from pharmacists who are qualified and trained to give immunisations.