Flu is raging in parts of NSW but not yet Dubbo.
A cold and wet August could lead to an outbreak in the city.
Dubbo Hospital Emergency Department (ED) staff were flat out in August 2016 treating patients with flu.
A handful of flu patients have attended the ED so far this winter.
But across NSW reports of flu are up 50 per cent on this time last year, with NSW Health expecting peak season to hit by the end of July.
Influenza A is being diagnosed in the majority of cases.
Dubbo Hospital’s director of emergency medicine Dr David Lord Cowell is warning the community about what may lie ahead.
“Across the state we’re seeing that already we are having a larger number of positive flu tests than we would expect this time of year and we are hoping that the flu season has come early rather than it being longer than normal,” he said.
“It does sometimes take a while for these illnesses to spread to the west. The whole state is not affected at the same time.
“I think maybe for Dubbo we haven’t reached our peak yet, even though the rest of the state has.”
Dr Lord Cowell is advising residents to be vaccinated against the flu, if they have not already contracted it.
I think maybe for Dubbo we haven't reached our peak yet, even though the rest of the state has.Dr David Lord Cowell
“With any illness, but particularly flu, it happens to be more severe in infants and elderly which is why we strongly recommend that the whole community, particularly children and elderly people, do get flu vaccinations,” he said.
The director said the vast majority of flu-like illness was mild to moderate and suitable for management at home or by a GP if needed.
Patients who stayed at home helped stop its spread into the likes of workplaces and schools, he said.
Dr Lord Cowell advised them to keep up fluids and regularly take paracetamol for headaches, aches and pains.
“The times you should consider seeing a doctor, either a GP or coming to the Emergency Department, is when your symptoms are really bad and you are having difficulty breathing or feel you are becoming dehydrated,” he said
The diagnosing of A and B influenza will be much quicker at Dubbo Hospital with its inclusion in the largest influenza testing program in the Southern Hemisphere.
NSW Health Pathology laboratories in 23 public hospitals are getting technology that will provide flu test results within four hours, allowing doctors to better use antiviral medication and preserve antibiotics.