Colds and flu see out winter

The flu has been running riot in the Northern Rivers.
The flu has been running riot in the Northern Rivers. Ipggutenbergukltd

LATE winter cold weather has seen sniffles spread as NSW comes to grips with an influenza outbreak.

So far this year there have been more than 3100 extra people in NSW diagnosed with influenza than this time last year.

According to NSW Health Communicable Diseases there were 1331 reported flu cases last week, an increase of 429 over the previous week.

Across Australia, NSW, with 6650 reported influenza infections is second to Queensland with 6818 influenza cases reported this year.

North and Mid-North Coast Director of Public Health, Paul Corben said in recent weeks there had been a spike in the number of influenza cases reported across the region.

"We are starting to see a ramping up of the notifications we are getting locally over the past few weeks," he said.

"We saw an increase in the number of influenza cases throughout July and the surveillance officers tell me there has been an increase in the last week or two as well."

Mr Corben said while flu season had come later in winter in past years on the Northern Rivers, recent weather could be a factor in the current spike.

"Influenza likes dry cold conditions and that's what we've been having in the last few weeks," he said.

Typical influenza symptoms include fever, muscular aches, headaches, cold shivers, lethargy and a cough or cold. Despite spring being just weeks away, Mr Corben said it was not too late to get a flu vaccination.

He urged people in high risk groups such as the elderly, pregnant women, aboriginal people older than 15 and those with chronic illness to get vaccinated.

"The best protection from influenza is vaccination," Mr Corben said.

"Typically only about one-third of pregnant women get vaccinated, but it's now strongly recommended that they get vaccinated to protect both themselves and their baby."

"When people are unwell with the flu they should stay away from work and school to avoid spreading the virus."

"If you are coughing and sneezing use a tissue."

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