The main preventive strategy against influenza infection remains vaccination . The vaccine does not contain live virus and provides protection against four strains of influenza and is estimated to be protective against 60-70% of the circulating strains each season. Last year 90, 861 Australians suffered from laboratory confirmed influenza, with many more cases not diagnosed.The vaccine cannot cause you to develop influenza as it contains inactivated virus only, but does stimulate the immune system to produce protective antibodies against influenza and sometimes produces mild flu-like symptoms for a day or so after the vaccine administration..

Influenza is most common during the colder months , the term 'flu' is often misused to describe a range of mild respiratory infections, but true influenza is a significant infection with potentially serious consequences for some people. The most at risk include pregnant women, children, the elderly Aboriginal people, and those with chronic illnesses. Each year influenza results in about 2500 deaths and is responsible for large numbers of hospital admissions. For 2016: 10% of influenza patients who had to go to hospital were directly admitted to the ICU, 74% of hospitalised sufferers belonged to a group most at risk of complications from influenza and recommended to have a vaccination. It was estimated that 2.3 million Australians aged 35-64 years have underlying medical conditions that put them at high risk of severe complications from influenza.

Influenza produces generalised symptoms of chills, fevers, muscle aches and pains, fatigue, headaches, sore throat and cough. There is a short incubation period of 2-3 days after exposure before developing symptoms.  Infection with the virus may also cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pains and diarrhoea.

Diagnosis is usually made on the basis of the symptoms, but it can be useful to use Laboratory tests to rule out antibiotic treatment should a person be very unwell from the symptoms, mimicking pneumonia and other infections.

Although the recommendation is to have the vaccine in Autumn before the flu season commences, the peak time in WA for influenza is usually August and it is not too late to have the vaccination.

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Meningococcal disease is rare, but life-threatening. Antibiotics can treat the disease, but the diagnosis and treatment must be given early as the infection can progress rapidly. Meningococcal vaccinations are again available for both the ACYW strains and B. Three cases have been reported in the past 2-3 weeks in WA. There have been a total of 17 cases for the year, with the trend of increasing Serogroup W ( 6 cases), one Y, one C and four Type B ( also increasing in older people, where previously the main groups infected were infants and adolescents)

A vaccination program is currently available for 15-19 years olds to protect against meningococcal strains A,C,W and Y. This vaccine is also highly recommended for those travelling to high risk areas such as sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle-East and Nepal and is required by UK Universities and many Universities and for Summer Camp volunteers  in North America.

Meningococcal C vaccine is now offered free to all children when they are 1 year old.

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