Spike in winter illnesses

A spike in illness ranging from flu to whooping cough and gastro has led doctors and health authorities to urge more people to get vaccinated.

Jul 09, 2024, updated Jul 09, 2024
Flue season has landed in Adelaide, with health professionals urging people to get vaccinated. Photo: Robin Utrecht/ABACAPRESS.COM.

Flue season has landed in Adelaide, with health professionals urging people to get vaccinated. Photo: Robin Utrecht/ABACAPRESS.COM.

Cases of whooping cough, the flu and gastro have surged, with the spike in illness hitting children hard and adding “unprecedented” pressure on some hospitals.

More than 170,000 influenza cases have been confirmed in Australia so far in 2024, with 29 per cent of them in children under nine years of age.

Infections Australia-wide are already 27 per cent higher than the first six months of 2023.

There have been 6358 reported cases of influenza in South Australia this year, a dramatic increase from the 1921 recorded as of April. There were 7780 cases reported at the same time in 2023.

In the week ending June 29, there were 908 cases reported.

Chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier urged South Australians to get vaccinated.

“The best protection is always prevention,” Spurrier said.

“We strongly encourage everyone to contact their GP or immunisation provider to arrange to get their vaccine dose to help protect themselves, their family and the community.

“We are strongly recommending it for all South Australians, but particularly we make it freely available for those under the age of five… and also for older South Australians.

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“Only 14 per cent of children six months to five years have had the flu vaccine,” Spurrier said in late May.

“The other age group that’s very important with flu vaccine is of course older South Australians… 56 per cent of South Australians over the age of 65 have been vaccinated, but you know 56 per cent, that’s not 100 per cent.”

Spurrier also urged people to keep up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations. There were 819 new cases of COVID-19 reported last week, a decrease from 986 the previous week.

“Less than 50 per cent of aged care residents in our state have had a booster in the last six months for COVID vaccine,” she said.

“We should be seeing higher rates for that… that’s a very very clear message to all South Australians to get vaccinated, particularly against the flu.”

Cases of pertussis, known as whooping cough, have already surged past pre-pandemic levels in Australia to more than 12,900 so far in 2024, which is four times the number of total infections in 2023.

More than 60 per cent of cases have been in children under 14.

Cases of a particular gastro strain have also already tripled the 2023 total, surging to more than 11,700.

Cryptosporidiosis, a type of gastroenteritis caused by a parasite, is spread in swimming pools, and anyone with symptoms is advised to stay out of the water for at least four weeks as they could still be shedding the virus, which can survive chlorine.

– with AAP

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