Coffs ready for the flu virus

COFFS Coast medical experts say with more than one million visitors arriving on our doorstep every year, we will be lucky to avoid swine flu.

The medical director of the Mid North Coast Division of General Practice, Dr Helena Johnston, told the Advocate all local GPs have been advised how to perform collection of nose and throat swabs and which laboratories would be performing testing and this information was being disseminated by every means possible.

“Have your immune system at the highest level possible,” Dr Johnston said.

“If you are not sure contact the Division's vaccination co-ordinator Leigh Eastwood for advice on 6651 5774.”

Dr Johnston added that people with concerns they could be high-risk should contact their own doctor in the first instance.

Yesterday two suspected cases of this new and frightening strain of influenza were recorded in the New England area and several others on the Central Coast.

More than six thousand people fly in to Coffs Harbour Regional Airport every week, many from overseas.

Airport manager Dennis Martin said although Coffs Harbour had international capacity, it was not receiving overseas flights, so travellers coming to Coffs Harbour would go through any screening in Sydney.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant is urging anyone who has returned from overseas recently and developed flu-like symptoms within seven days of returning to contact their local public health unit, GP or emergency department.

“These influenza like symptoms include a fever, cough and fatigue,” Dr Chant said.

Yesterday swine flu was the hot topic on everyone's lips, inside and outside the medical profession.

Pharmacies were fielding plenty of questions about the epidemic that has gripped Mexico and is swiftly moving abroad.

An employee from the Jetty Village Pharmacy said while stocks of antibacterial hand wash and face masks had not been rushing out the door, there were plenty of customers talking about it.



Swine Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by one of several swine influenza A viruses that leads to outbreaks in pigs and occasionally infects humans.


Symptoms of swine flu in humans are similar to that of the regular flu, including fever, cough, sore throat, aching body, headache, chills, fatigue, diarrhoea and vomiting.


Contact your health care provider if you are worried about your symptoms and if you live in areas where swine flu cases have been identified.

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