Influenza (“flu”) is a contagious disease that spreads around Australia each year. Influenza can occur at any time of the year, but is more likely to occur between June and October. Flu is caused by influenza viruses, and is spread mainly by coughing and sneezing.
Anyone can get the flu.
Symptoms come on suddenly and may last several days. Flu can also lead to pneumonia, and can make existing medical conditions worse. It can also cause diarrhoea and seizures in children. Each year thousands of people in Australia die from flu, and many more are hospitalised.
Flu vaccine is the best protection against flu and its complications. The flu vaccine also helps prevent the spread of flu from person to person.
What are the most common flu symptoms?
Symptoms of flu most commonly include a fever combined with a cough and/or sore throat.
Other symptoms may include:
- runny or congested nose
- muscle or joint aches and pains
- nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhoea have also been reported, particularly in children.
These symptoms generally require people to take several days of work and/or reduces their productivity while at work.
Several flu virus strains circulate every year in Australia.
Is the flu really that much of a risk?
The short answer is Yes! In 2017, there were 207,000 confirmed cases of influenza reported in Australia. More than 29,000 people were hospitalised because of it, and 8.9% of those ended up in Intensive Care Units (ICUs).
There are a number of factors that can influence how badly a person can be affected—whether it’s just feeling a bit off colour, through to a life-threatening condition. The flu is easily prevented through vaccination, so why take the risk?