Australia

Australia on track for horror flu season with more than 220 deaths

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Over 200 Australians have died from the flu this year.

Australia may be on track for the worse flu season in years, with an early spike in the number of cases.

Almost 42,000 Australians were diagnosed with the virus last month while in June last year that number was under 2000.

And latest figures show that 228 people have already died this year from flu complications.

Australians are being urged to get vaccinated.
Australians are being urged to get vaccinated.
AAP

Professor Kanta Subbarao of the WHO Collaborating Centre on Influenza told SBS News it's been a very early flu season.

"We've had a much earlier influenza season than usual and it's on track for being as bad as 2017, a notably bad influenza season," Professor Subbarao said.

Currently, four strains of the virus are active, with influenza A being the most common.

While the flu vaccination treats all four, experts say the virus can mutate quickly.

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"It's 50-70 per cent effective in preventing influenza illness [and] our hope is that it prevents more serious illnesses."

Nationally more than 13.1 million doses of the flu vaccine have been distributed so far this year - 2 million more than last year and five million more than 2017.

GPs say while it might not be 100 per cent effective, it's the best tool they have in fighting the flu.

"They're no silver bullets unfortunately but this is good medicine it's good technology," Dr Hugh Leslie of CBD Doctors said.

Dr Leslie said it's not too late to get vaccinated this flu season and it’s especially important for the elderly and those under five.

Carlie Kilikas and one of her children.
Carlie Kilikas and one of her children.
SBS News

Mother of four Carlie Kilikas told SBS News all four of her children contracted the virus this season.

"I wouldn't wish anyone to go through this. It was one of the worst illnesses we've had … It was horrendous to say the least."

- with AAP

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