Chance of early flu season and hacking cough for Western Australians
Respiratory expert, Professor Yuben Moodley, Deputy Director of the Institute for Respiratory Health, is urging the Western Australian public to come forward for their flu jab to maximise their protection ahead of winter.
Given Australian flu epidemics are typically ignited by returned overseas travellers, reviewing the Northern Hemisphere flu season often provides a glimpse into what Australia can expect.
“This year the Northern Hemisphere experienced an early flu season,” said Professor Moodley.
“Last year our peak was in late May and early June, it usually peaks in August, the same could happen again this year.
“The Northern Hemisphere also experienced higher than usual persistent hacking coughs. A dry, persistent cough was one of the most commonly reported symptoms and it was lingering for longer than usual.”
Research showed that rates of lower and upper respiratory tract infections were well above average usually seen so far in winter in the UK. Weekly data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), also reported high rates of flu and other respiratory viruses.
“One of the reasons coughs could be lasting so long is because people are picking up one infection after another,” said Professor Moodley.
“We need to be prepared and we can do this by taking the flu vaccine. It’s usually available in April but hopefully, it will be available a bit sooner this year.
“If people feel unwell, particularly those with lung disease and the vulnerable, they should stay at home. Practising good public hygiene such as regular handwashing and throwing tissues away once they’ve been used will help.
“If a cough is particularly persistent, or bringing up discoloured phlegm, has severely worsened with shortness of breath, or if a patient is experiencing chest pain or losing weight for no reason, they should see their doctor.”
For more details on the flu vaccine visit Department of Health and Aged Care.