Tom Le Goff

Killer flu is headed to our shores

A KILLER flu is heading toward Australia and tourist towns such as Coffs Harbour are in the firing line.

More than 20 children have already died in the United States from the H2N3 strain of the virus.

Respected doctor Joan Chamberlain expects the flu to hit Sydney and tourists first because of the high population coming through the airport.

"This year's flu is going to be different from past years and should hit us around May or June," Dr Chamberlain said.

"For the past two years, flu vaccinations have been similar, but this year is different, this flu is unique."

Dr Chamberlain said the flu had started in the Northern Hemisphere and slightly changed as it spread around the world.

Di Stanley had been miserable for the past two weeks after catching a dose of the flu but does not know what strain it was.

"I think I'm the victim of an airplane-borne influenza, after my brother came to visit from interstate," Ms Stanley said.

"It started off in my tonsils, then progressed to piercing headaches.

"It felt like an icepick attacking my tonsils, ear drums and head all at once."

She said she regretted staying at work and battling through the flu.

"I should've taken time off work; I obviously could've infected an entire workplace," she said.

"Next time I'll be curled up on the couch watching daytime TV."

Local GPs are starting to stock this year's flu vaccine and residents are encouraged to go and get their shot.

"I absolutely am getting a flu shot this year in my best interest," Ms Stanley said.


Ways to Help Stop Spreading the Flu

Washing your hands regularly with soap and water.

Don't share eating and drinking utensils or food and drinks.

If unwell, protect other people by covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.

Stay at least one metre from people who are coughing and sneezing.

Regularly clean surfaces such as tables, benches and fridge doors.


Influenza Facts

This winter, more than 80,000 people across Australia will seek medical attention as a result of influenza.

A further 15,000 people will require hospitalisation.

More than 2500 Australians are estimated to die each year from complications due to influenza.

People most at risk of complications from influenza are the elderly, pregnant women, young children, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and people with suppressed immune systems.

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