18 August 2016

Tips to stay healthy and avoid spreading respiratory illness

Western Australians are being reminded to take steps to protect themselves and their families from colds and flu.               

The reminder comes as WA’s metropolitan emergency departments deal with a record number of patients presenting with flu-like illnesses.

Influenza-Like Illness attendances currently account for 12 per cent of all ED attendances so far this month.

WA Health Communicable Disease Control Director Dr Paul Armstrong said that although winter was nearly over, flu-like symptoms and illness would continue to prevail for some time. 

“Good hygiene is the best protection in reducing the spread of respiratory viruses in the community,” Dr Armstrong said.

“As germs can spread easily, coughs and sneezes should be caught using a tissue or, if a tissue is not available, into the crook of your elbow.

“After sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose, tissues should be disposed of immediately into a bin, and hands should be properly washed with soap or alcohol based hand sanitisers.”

People are also encouraged to stay at home if they are experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms, to avoid the spread of the virus onto others. Bed rest, a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water can also assist the recovery process.

Dr Armstrong said it was also not too late to get the flu vaccine, which offered the best protection against the flu.

“Although it can take up to two weeks for the body to build up good immunity, influenza strains will continue to circulate well past the end of August,” he said.

The vaccine is free to a number of eligible at-risk groups including young children, Aboriginal people aged 15 years and older, pregnant women, people aged 65 years and older and those with chronic medical conditions.

Some private providers may charge a fee to administer the flu vaccine and people are advised to discuss this with their doctor or immunisation clinic when making an appointment.

WA Health recently launched a Health Care Options campaign to educate and inform people about the health care options available to them.

The campaign aims to reduce the number of people attending hospital EDs with minor illnesses or injuries, by highlighting a number of other health services available for non-emergency issues.

Visit HealthyWA (external site) for more information on the health care options (external site) available that include self-care, pharmacy, GP, healthdirect and the Emergency Department, as well as tips on staying healthy (external site).

ENDS

Media contact: (08) 9222 4333

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