What is the flu?
Influenza, or the flu, is a highly contagious respiratory illness. It's a common cause of hospitalisation and many people die each year from complications of the flu in Australia.
Influenza is caused by a virus but it’s not normally dangerous if you’re healthy. Sometimes, however, different strains of influenza can cause serious illness in some people.
The influenza virus is always changing and evolving. In Australia, a new strain comes out each winter.
What is ‘flu season’?
It’s possible to catch the flu at any time, it's more likely to happen in the colder months of the year (April to October) because people tend to stay inside where the virus passes more easily between people.
The flu season typically peaks in August, and this year, experts are concerned about the high numbers of laboratory-confirmed diagnoses. The age group most at risk includes children under 14. 4
How can I prevent the spread of flu?
Good hygiene is one of the most important ways to help prevent colds and flu (influenza).
Good hygiene includes:
- washing your hands regularly and properly with soap and water, particularly after touching your nose or mouth, and before handling food
- sneezing and coughing into tissues then throwing them away immediately and washing your hands. Alternatively, you can sneeze or cough into your elbow; that reduces the likelihood you will transfer the virus with your hands. Always put your tissues into the bin immediately as this also reduces the risk of transferring the virus.
- cleaning surfaces such as your keyboard, telephone and door handles regularly to get rid of germs
- not sharing cups, plates and cutlery
- where you can, avoid sharing towels with other people and throw disposable tissues and paper towels in the bin immediately after using them
You can also prevent flu by:
- Having an annual flu vaccination
- Taking antiviral medicines, although these are only recommended for preventing flu if you have been exposed to the flu in the previous 48 hours Talk to your General Practitioner (GP) to find out if these options are suitable for you. If you notice you are unwell minimize your contact with others and see your GP.
4.Australian Influenza Surveillance Report (health.gov.au)