The NT Department of Health has issued an alert to Territorians advising that the 2016 flu season has arrived but it is still not too late get vaccinated.
Centre for Disease Control Director, Dr Vicki, Krause said case number of influenza had been on the rise since early August 2016 and the flu season had arrived in other all other states.
“Influenza can be very severe and debilitating and should be taken seriously. It is not too late to get vaccinated to prevent getting the infection,” Dr Krause said.
Influenza, or ‘the flu’, is a viral infection spread from person to person through droplets produced when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. Flu can also be caught by transfer of the virus by hand from a contaminated surface to the mouth, eyes or nose.
Symptoms of the flu are fever, runny nose, headache and severe muscle aches. People often end up in bed for several days and some people can develop serious complications requiring hospitalisation. Deaths do occur from influenza.
It is advisable to practice safe hygiene to prevent the spread of infection by coughing or sneezing into your upper arm or into a tissue, to wash your hands frequently and stay home from work or school if you are unwell.
Although anti-viral medication can be given once someone has developed the flu, vaccination is the best way to avoid getting sick with the flu. The more people are vaccinated, the less chance there is for the illness to spread throughout the rest of the community.
The advice to be vaccinated applies particularly to people at increased risk of serious complications of influenza.
The main at-risk groups include pregnant women; Aboriginal people aged 6 months to less than 5 years and 15 years of age and over.
Others in the at-risk category included anyone 65 years and over and anyone 6 months and older who has chronic medical conditions and those with diabetes, kidney, heart or lung diseases and people with impaired immunity from medication or cancer.
“Everyone who wants to protect themselves from influenza should be vaccinated,” Dr Krause said.
“See your GP or healthcare provider as soon as possible if you are unvaccinated to receive your flu vaccine in order to protect yourself and the community from the spread of influenza infection.”