IT'S been a deadly start to the flu season in Victoria with already 26 confirmed deaths, including three children and that's before we even hit the winter months.
It comes as the Department of Health and Human Services reveals there has been more than 10,000 cases already recorded this year in Victoria, more than five times the amount at the same time last year, and almost as many as the entire 2018.
Acting Chief Health Officer Dr Angie Bone told 3AW this morning that it was developing as an unusual flu season.
"I wouldn't go so far to calling it a crisis, but it is certainly unusual," she said.
In the last five months there have been 10,683 confirmed cases of the flu across the state. Last year the total for the entire year was 11,607.
Dr Bone said the true flu death toll is likely to be higher.
"This is probably just a small representation of the actual number of deaths that happen from the flu," she said.
At this time last year there had not been any flu deaths.
Dr Bone urged people to take protective measures including frequent hand washing, not going to work or school while unwell, and getting the flu vaccine to stop the disease spreading.
Not-for-profit NPS MedicineWise medical adviser and general practitioner Dr Jill Thistlethwaite said this is shaping up to be a bad year for the flu.
"The flu is a serious disease that for some people can lead to severe complications such as pneumonia, heart damage, brain damage and even death," says Dr Thistlethwaite.
"At a minimum, most people with flu will be unwell for at least a week and unable to go to work or school.
"This new article from NPS MedicineWise explains that the most important weapon against flu and its complications is vaccination.
"The take-home message is that annual vaccination is recommended for everyone over 6 months of age, so ask your GP, clinic or pharmacist about having a flu shot now," she said.
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