SEVEN elderly residents have died and more than 100 others have fallen ill after a nasty strain of the flu swept through an aged care facility in Victoria’s northeast.
Of the 146 residents and 200 staff at the St John’s Retirement Village in Wangaratta, 123 have contracted the flu in recent weeks. Sadly, seven of them passed away from complications.
In a statement this morning, the Department of Health said the residents were aged between 70 and 94 and had other conditions that made them susceptible to influenza.
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So far this year, there have been 11,000 confirmed cases of influenza in Victoria and 208 outbreaks, compared to the 104 this time last year.
Victoria’s Acting Chief Health Officer Dr Brett Sutton has warned anyone with an illness to stay well away from aged care facilities where people are particularly vulnerable.
“We are at the peak of one of the worst flu seasons ever and the elderly are one of highest risk groups. In aged care facilities, the flu can spread quickly,” Dr Sutton said.
“Sadly, for the frail – and people with underlying health conditions – the flu can be very serious.
“About 800 people in Victoria die each year from influenza – the most of any communicable disease.”
The Department of Health says strict infection control measures have been put in place at St John’s Retirement Village which has helped manage the outbreak and contain its spread.
The severe outbreaks and associated deaths come amid one of the worst flu season’s Australia has ever seen.
So far this year, close to 60,000 people have contracted the virus in NSW; more than 42,000 cases were in Sydney.
Last month was the worst on record for the flu in the state, with more than 35,000 new cases in four weeks.
NSW Health has recorded 48 flu outbreaks in aged care facilities across the state in the last week alone.
Sadly, more than 130 elderly residents have already died from complications relating to the flu in NSW this year.
A further 24,000 people have fallen ill in Queensland.