Winter ills season arrives early

GETTING BUSY: An increase in people with viral illness symptoms has been adding to the workload for Gisborne Hospital staff. Emergency Department head Dr Page Hudson is reminding people that ED is for life-threatening, sudden or acute illness or severe trauma. The best treatment for those with viral illness symptoms is bed rest and lots of fluid. Herald file picture
FLU JAB: Influenza-like activiity across the country is above the seasonal baseline threshold, according to an Environmental Science and Research report. Hauora Tairawhiti medical officer of health Bruce Duncan says influenza is more than “a bad cold” and that the best defence is an annual flu vaccination, “especially if you are pregnant, elderly or have a chronic illness”. Herald file picture

GISBORNE Hospital has been increasingly busy with the onset of winter, prompting timely warnings and advice from medical staff.

“Since June there has been a significant increase in people with symptoms of viral illnesses coming to Gisborne Hospital, says Emergency Department head Dr Page Hudson.

Viral illness causes an aching body and upset stomach, but Dr Hudson stresses that antibiotics do not help when it comes to treating a virus.

“Lots of fluids and bed rest are the best treatment.”

They are also seeing positive tests for Influenza A, which he says is “very early” for the winter ills season.

According to the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) New Zealand Influenza Intelligence for the week ending June 30, Tairawhiti recorded 54.62 cases of influenza-positive illness visits to GP centres per 100,000 registered patients.

That compares to 93.24 in Auckland, 24.17 in Bay of Plenty, 107.06 in the Lakes district (Taupo and Rotorua) and 54.45 in Hawke’s Bay.

Influenza-like activity across the country was above the seasonal baseline threshold, said the ESR report.

There had been a higher proportion of illness due to influenza viruses than was usual for this time of the year.

Over 50 percent of samples tested at general practitioners and over 40 percent tested in hospitals were influenza positive, “which is one of the highest positivity rates for this period in recent years”.

“Influenza A(H3N2) and B/Victoria are co-circulating across New Zealand, with the former predominating in hospitals and the latter predominating in the community,’’ said the ESR report.

Influenza is more than just a ‘‘bad cold,’’ says Hauora Tairawhiti medical officer of health Dr Bruce Duncan.

“‘It is easily passed on to other people and can be a serious illness that is sometimes fatal.

“Your best defence is an annual flu vaccination, especially if you are pregnant, elderly or have a chronic illness.”

Director of nursing Serita Karauria, says beds at Gisborne Hospital have been filling up, which is usual at this time of the year.

The larger number of people being seen at the Emergency Department is putting extra demand on staff and services across the system.

“It is important people remember that ED is for emergencies; people who are facing life-threatening, sudden or acute illness or a severe trauma, says Dr Hudson.

“When someone’s life is at risk always phone 111 for an ambulance.

‘‘If you come to ED when you are not acutely unwell you may be in for a long wait.

“We apologise for this but it is important that we see people in the order of the seriousness of their condition, not in the order that they arrive.

“If you are not acutely unwell see your family doctor or medical centre.

‘‘It is free for children under-14 to see their GP . . . at any hour of the day or across the weekend. All GPs offer an after-hours service till 8pm.”

GISBORNE Hospital has been increasingly busy with the onset of winter, prompting timely warnings and advice from medical staff.

“Since June there has been a significant increase in people with symptoms of viral illnesses coming to Gisborne Hospital, says Emergency Department head Dr Page Hudson.

Viral illness causes an aching body and upset stomach, but Dr Hudson stresses that antibiotics do not help when it comes to treating a virus.

“Lots of fluids and bed rest are the best treatment.”

They are also seeing positive tests for Influenza A, which he says is “very early” for the winter ills season.

According to the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) New Zealand Influenza Intelligence for the week ending June 30, Tairawhiti recorded 54.62 cases of influenza-positive illness visits to GP centres per 100,000 registered patients.

That compares to 93.24 in Auckland, 24.17 in Bay of Plenty, 107.06 in the Lakes district (Taupo and Rotorua) and 54.45 in Hawke’s Bay.

Influenza-like activity across the country was above the seasonal baseline threshold, said the ESR report.

There had been a higher proportion of illness due to influenza viruses than was usual for this time of the year.

Over 50 percent of samples tested at general practitioners and over 40 percent tested in hospitals were influenza positive, “which is one of the highest positivity rates for this period in recent years”.

“Influenza A(H3N2) and B/Victoria are co-circulating across New Zealand, with the former predominating in hospitals and the latter predominating in the community,’’ said the ESR report.

Influenza is more than just a ‘‘bad cold,’’ says Hauora Tairawhiti medical officer of health Dr Bruce Duncan.

“‘It is easily passed on to other people and can be a serious illness that is sometimes fatal.

“Your best defence is an annual flu vaccination, especially if you are pregnant, elderly or have a chronic illness.”

Director of nursing Serita Karauria, says beds at Gisborne Hospital have been filling up, which is usual at this time of the year.

The larger number of people being seen at the Emergency Department is putting extra demand on staff and services across the system.

“It is important people remember that ED is for emergencies; people who are facing life-threatening, sudden or acute illness or a severe trauma, says Dr Hudson.

“When someone’s life is at risk always phone 111 for an ambulance.

‘‘If you come to ED when you are not acutely unwell you may be in for a long wait.

“We apologise for this but it is important that we see people in the order of the seriousness of their condition, not in the order that they arrive.

“If you are not acutely unwell see your family doctor or medical centre.

‘‘It is free for children under-14 to see their GP . . . at any hour of the day or across the weekend. All GPs offer an after-hours service till 8pm.”

Always check children's sore throats

CHILDREN and young people with sore throats should always be checked out, medical professionals advise.

Sore throats should be swabbed and checked by a medical centre nurse.

All medical centres offer this service free and without an appointment for people under 19 years old.

Untreated strep throat can lead to rheumatic fever, which can do permanent damage to hearts.

Maori and Pacific children and young people are at the highest risk of getting rheumatic fever, especially if they are staying in crowded or cold, damp homes.

If you are in a cold or damp home, assistance may be available to you or your landlord to improve insulation and heating.

People who are unwell and are not sure where they should go are encouraged to call Healthline 24/7 on 0800 611 116 for free advice from a trained registered nurse.

Sick people should stay at home to help prevent the spread of illness.

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