North Harbour News : July 25th 2014
YOUR PLACE, YOUR PAPER Friday, July 25, 2014 Head off flu with a jab IT all started with a sore throat. Then came the headaches, nasal congestion and a temperature. A cough developed shortly after- wards which only added to my lethargic misery as I wallowed at home, hardly sleeping and staring blearily at my book. Three weeks on I’m still feeling the effects. The persistent cough isn’t budging and my nose is just starting to clear. It’s the grim reality most Aucklanders face as winter tightens its icy grip. I was lucky and only had a severe cold, but influenza levels within New Zealand are on the rise. The data produced by Google’s tracking in New Zealand this year shows influenza levels spiking higher than any other, except 2009 when H1N1 influenza, dubbed swine flu, produced a huge spike. It may look worrying, but real world tracking by ESR through the National Influenza Surveillance System shows levels are broadly in line with last year. That’s only just above the threshold average of 39 cases per 100,000 people. Google could be tracking respir- atory illnesses rather than influenza, National Influenza Specialist Group spokesman Dr Lance Jennings says. The clinical virologist says it is still a mild season. ‘‘It’s tracking up but not as high as suggested by Google,’’ he says. Data from the National Influ- enza Surveillance System in New Zealand shows A-H1N1 is the most common flu virus so far this year. The virus, which tends to be particularly severe in younger adults, started circulating throughout summer. Jennings says vaccination is the best form of protection. The funded jab season has been extended until August 31 to cater for the rise in influenza, Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew says. ‘‘The vaccine was due to be funded until July 31, but our surveillance shows winter flu cases are rising and have not yet peaked,’’ Goodhew says. ‘‘As the peak is still to come, hospitals are likely to see more people with the illness, so it is worthwhile to extend the funded vaccination season. ‘‘The good news is that the A-H1N1 strain is covered by the flu Expert advice: Dr Lance Jennings. Symptoms Cold symptoms tend to be a runny or stuffy nose, sore throat and sneezing, a slight fever and sometimes a cough, headache and mild tiredness. Flu symptoms are a dry and hacking cough, fever or chills, a sore throat, muscles or body aches, headache, stuffy and runny nose and profound fatigue. Help prevent flu spreading vaccine, so it is yet another reason to get immunised if you haven’t already,’’ Goodhew says. Almost 1.19 million flu vaccines have been distributed across the country. North Shore and Waitakere Hospitals are being stretched to capacity with the high number of people turning up with respiratory illness. Waitemata District Health Board chief executive Dr Dale Bramley says the onset of winter conditions usually results in an upswing in patient presentations, but numbers at emergency departments during the past fortnight are more than for the same time last year. ‘‘The high numbers have created particular challenges for staff to manage,’’ he says. ‘‘Medical admissions are up by around 20 per cent YOUR CHILDREN ARE AMAZING ALREADY. WE JUST HELP THEM PROVE IT. on the same two weeks last year and we have regularly found ourselves operating at 100 per cent capacity. Urgent and acute cases are our priority and, unfortunately, we have had to postpone a small number of scheduled elective procedures.’’ Bramley says people should always call on their family practitioner first, unless it is an emergency or life-threatening situation. by staying home when unwell. Also wash hands regularly for at least 20 seconds, drying them for 20 seconds – or using an alcohol-based hand rub. Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. Don’t touch your eyes, nose and mouth, don’t share drinks and avoid crowded places. Reporter Erica Donald has already experienced the chills and illness winter often brings. It’s taken three weeks to recover and that was just a cold. Luckily for her it wasn’t the flu, but already this winter looks like it will be particularly bad for influenza. Get a jab The seasonal flu immunisation programme is free for anyone aged 65 years and over, pregnant women, people with long-term health conditions such as severe asthma and children under five who have been hospitalised for a respiratory illness. For everyone else aged 6 months or older, the vaccine is available for a small charge either from their general practice or pharmacies offering vaccinations. From New Entrant to Year 11, NumberWorks’nWords afterschool tuition brings out the best in Kiwi students by: • tailoring lessons according to each individual’s needs • setting achievable goals and monitoring their progress • developing our own programmes using only qualified Maths and English experts 478 7130 Maths & English FREE ASSESSMENT – BOOK NOW!
July 18th 2014