Community members are urged to access the 2017 flu vaccine.
Community members are urged to access the 2017 flu vaccine. Warren Lynam

Flu cases jump by 259% in Northern NSW

FLU detections on the Northern Rivers are on the march in just one direction - up.

Over the last three years flu notifications across the Northern NSW Local Health District jumped from 268 cases to 963.

This year, it is expected to be worse again, with 523 cases to date and the traditionally worst months of August and September still ahead of us.

There has been 174 cases of flu this month, already double that of last year, with still another 10 days to go.

If last year is an indication, there could easily be over 400 cases in August followed by another 200 in September.

Labor MP and shadow health minister Walt Secord has politicised the flu increase, accusing the Berejiklian Government of being "caught completely unprepared" by the virus.

Mr Secord also blamed the increase in flu cases to the rise of "bed block" incidents in emergency departments.

He noted that the Northern NSW was third behind Western Sydney and Northern Sydney for the number of flu cases per 100,000 population.

However, director of communicable virus at NSW Health, the Vicky Sheppeard, has blamed the flu spike on more sensitive testing measures.

Ms Sheppeard has said a more accurate indication of the severity of the virus was the number of flu-related emergency department admissions.

Figures from HealthStats NSW website show that flu-related hospital admissions have increased over the last four years in Northern Rivers - but at a tenth of the rate of flu diagnoses.

Between 2012-13 and 2015-16, hospital admissions increased from 1112 to 1408, an increase of 26%.

Over the last 10 years, hospital admissions for flu have increased from 883 to 1408, an increase of 60%.



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