Australia

Victorian man dies after catching flu

A 43-year-old father who battled a virus for more than a week is the latest victim of Victoria's deadly flu season.

Victoria is staring down the barrel of its first year-long flu season as the illness claims its 37th victim - an otherwise healthy hospital worker.

James Day, 43, from Traralgon in the Gippsland region, spent a week in hospital with influenza before he died on Sunday.

In a Facebook post a week earlier, wife Jennifer said Mr Day was fighting for life.

"James has been battling Influenza the last eight days. Unfortunately it has hit him and his body quite hard and last night he was admitted to the Alfred ICU. He is very sick," Mrs Day wrote.

Mr Day and his wife both worked at Latrobe Regional Hospital.

Chief Executive Peter Craighead said Mr Day's death had devastated staff.

"James was with us for a short time but had connected with so many of our staff who are understandably shocked that his life was taken in this way," Mr Craighead said in a statement.

"Our nurses who work with his wife Jennifer are equally upset, knowing how challenging a time this has been for her and their young son."

Acting chief health officer Angie Bone said Mr Day's death was a harsh reminder that even healthy people who are vaccinated can succumb to the flu.

"It really highlights the importance of all of us taking basic protective measures," Dr Bone told reporters.

"These are things like ensuring that you had your flu vaccination for this season, washing your hands, using cough hygiene, so coughing into your elbow and not spreading droplets that might be infected and if you are unwell staying at home and seeking medical attention."

Dr Bone said the flu virus could live on a surface for 48 hours.

More than 20,000 people have been diagnosed with the flu in Victoria since the season started in January, months earlier than usual.

It is the first time Victoria has had one flu season immediately follow another, Dr Bone said.

"It's difficult to know why it started so early this year. One suggestion is that the flu season 2018 wasn't very severe at all, it was really quite mild, so that perhaps our levels (of) immunity in the population are lower, which meant that it started earlier," she said.

A GoFundMe page has raised more than $8000 to assist Mr Day's wife and young son.

REPORTED VICTORIAN FLU DEATHS SINCE JANUARY 2019

* 31 people in aged care

* 3 children

* 3 adults not in aged care

*Source: DHHS

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