A BALLARAT doctor warns influenza cases could soar when children return to school in a fortnight as peak flu season kicks in.
Ballarat Health Services medicine service director Doctor James Hurley said Ballarat Base Hospital admission numbers were not out of the ordinary for June, but he predicted cases would steadily increase at the end of school holidays.
Dr Hurley said July and August continued to be peak flu season months.
He said the driving force behind outbreaks was children returning to school.
The virus is transmitted easily from person-to-person via droplets and small particles produced when infected people cough or sneeze and through hand contact with contaminated surfaces.
It is characterised by a sudden high fever, cough, headache, muscle and joint pain, feeling unwell and sore throat.
“There have already been a few cases at the hospital and we expect in the next couple of weeks outbreaks will steadily increase,” Dr Hurley said.
“What we believe continues to drive these outbreaks is people congregating together in the same space for long periods of time such as in a classroom at school, which allows the virus to rapidly spread.”
He said while everybody was susceptible to influenza, those most at risk are children and people who were elderly, frail or pregnant.
Dr Hurley urged anybody who had flu-like symptoms to stay away from school or work, and if symptoms persisted for longer than 48 hours to visit a doctor.
He also encouraged people to speak to their doctor on ways to prevent being infected with the flu or to consider getting the flu vaccination.