Influenza in the ACT

Prevent influenza

As we move into the cooler months, we also move into flu season. This is when we expect to see an increase in cases of flu in the ACT community.

At this time of the year, it's a good idea to consider how you and your family can prepare to stay healthy this flu season.

2014 ACT Health Sector Winter Plan

The Population Health Division has continued to work closely with ACT Medicare Local and both Canberra and Calvary Hospitals to undertake specific winter preparedness activities to assist the broader ACT health sector to effectively mitigate the risks and manage the consequences of winter outbreaks of infectious disease.

What is influenza?

Influenza (commonly known as the flu) is a highly contagious respiratory illness. When someone has the flu, the symptoms come on suddenly and can be severe. Those symptoms include fever, muscle and joint aches and extreme tiredness, along with the sore throat and runny nose. The virus is spread easily from person to person through small droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

For more information, please see the ACT Health Influenza Fact Sheet: www.health.act.gov.au/publications/fact-sheets/influenza

What can I do to stop the spread of influenza (flu)?

Immunisation is the best protection against flu. Not only does it protect you from illness, it can also help to protect those around you. While the best time to get the flu vaccine is before winter arrives, it is still a useful vaccine to receive later in the year too. It is important to get the seasonal flu vaccine every year, because the composition of the vaccine changes annually and immunity from flu vaccination only lasts about 12 months.

Seasonal flu vaccine is free for some groups who are at higher risk of severe disease - ask your GP if you are eligible. For those not eligible, the vaccine can be obtained via prescription from community pharmacies.

If you become unwell with a flu-like illness there are several things you can do to help stop spreading the disease to others. These include:

  • Staying away from childcare, school, work and other social activities until you are well;
  • Covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and disposing of soiled tissues in the bin immediately;
  • Using an alcohol based hand rub, and/or washing your hands regularly with soap and water;
  • Seeking medical advice from your GP.

Influenza surveillance in the ACT

ACT Health conducts surveillance for laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza in the ACT. Current data on notifications of influenza in the ACT can be found here: ACT Influenza Report

Influenza notification data from the ACT and other Australian jurisdictions can be found at: National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS)

H7N9 Influenza in China

For information regarding human cases of H7N9 in China, please see the Department of Health and Ageing website: www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/cda-surveil-avianflu-china.htm