Aged care flu outbreak prompts warning

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AN outbreak of influenza-A at a Mornington aged care home has prompted the Department of Health and Human Services to warn of the importance of limiting the spread of the disease.

Department spokesman Graeme Walker said 20 residents and two staff at Park Hill Gardens Aged Care Facility in Tyabb Road had been affected. The facility has 68 residents and 90 staff.

He said one resident had died “with the flu – not of the flu” in the recent outbreak but that “the department is unable to provide details as to the cause of death”.

The highly contagious viral infection can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications, including pneumonia. The flu is spread by contact with fluids from coughs and sneezes.

It is estimated that flu contributes to over 3000 deaths in Australia each year.

Mr Walker said the department … “worked with the facility to manage the outbreak and ensure infection control measures were implemented. This included a thorough cleaning of the premises.”

He said the illness had “run its course” over the 10 days since it was reported on 13 August.

“Once Park Hill became aware of the situation they did their best to manage it. Influenza is very common in the community, especially at this time of the year, and there’s no suggestion they did anything wrong.”

Mr Walker urged friends and relatives to stay away from aged care and nursing homes if they were ill. He said good hand hygiene would assist in controlling the spread of cases. “Hand hygiene gel is widely available for visitors in hospitals and aged care facilities, and should be used even if you are well,” he said.

“Remember good cough etiquette at all times. Cough into a tissue and dispose of it immediately, or cough into your sleeve.

“We are in the peak flu season now. It tends to be later in the year and it is still not too late to be vaccinated.”

Park Hill was contacted for comment.

First published in the Mornington News – 4 September 2018

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