Dr Andrew Langley of the Sunshine Coast Public Health Unit.
Dr Andrew Langley of the Sunshine Coast Public Health Unit. Barry Leddicoat

Deadly flu season has 'peaked' but not disappeared

WITH reports the potentially life-saving drug Tamiflu had run dry in the wake of one of the worst flu seasons recorded in recent years, the Sunshine Coast Health and Hospital Service said the peak of this year's deadly season had passed but many cases were still being reported.

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"We have passed the peak of the influenza season but it is not a time to be complacent," physician Dr Andrew Langley said.

"There are still many local cases being reported."

For the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service area, which includes the Gympie, Noosa and Sunshine Coast council areas:

3767 cases of influenza have been notified to Queensland Health this year. Of these, 360 cases were for residents of the Gympie Council area. This is only the people who see a doctor and are tested, and is three times higher than the averages at this time of year for the past five years.

Most of this year's reported cases occurred in August when 1576 cases were reported, but there were still 1197 cases reported in September.

There have been 263 admissions to public hospitals of people with influenza in the SCHHS area (as at October 1).

"State-wide, there have been 50,650 cases of laboratory-confirmed influenza, with 5451 admissions to public hospitals including 638 to intensive care (as at October 1)," Dr Langley said.

"Of the reported cases, 68% were for influenza type A and 32% were for type B. Most of the type A specimens that have been subtyped are for type A/H3N2. Seasons in which subtype A/H3N2 predominate have been associated with more common severe outcomes in older people.

"Nationally, there have been at least 121 deaths directly linked to influenza this year (as at 15 September). This figure is unlikely to include all influenza-related deaths, as it is reliant on the follow-up of cases to determine the outcome of their infection."