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Sick in the Bay

File photo.

Winter is finally coming to an end and hopefully this means colds and flus circulating the Bay will start to disappear along with the bitterly cold weather.

It might seem like everyone in your life has been sick a half dozen times this season - blazing sore throat, dripping nose, throbbing headache and phlegmy cough.

Toi Te Ora Public Health medical officer of health Dr Phil Shoemack says it hasn’t actually been a bad winter for influenza, but there is some anecdotal evidence it has been a pretty bad year for coughs and colds and viral infections.

“From what schools say about the number of students that have been away, and the DHB about the impact of winter illnesses on our staffing, suggests it has been a significant problem.

 “We have had a number of staff report in sick because of respiratory illness, and that’s not surprising because there is an awful lot of different viruses that can cause these chest infections.”

Phil says the cold weather impacts the body’s ability to cope with viruses we are exposed to on a daily basis.

“It means we spend more time inside, and relatively speaking that means we are in closer contact with others which makes it easier to transmit.”

CentralMed Pharmacy pharmacist Emma Hartnett says she has seen lots of people coming in this winter looking for relief from coughing, sore throats and headaches.

“There has been a lot of people coming along with viral colds – it has been quite busy. On the other hand, we haven’t had too many people coming in with the full-blown flu.”

Institute of Environmental Science and Research public health physician Sarah Jefferies says this year’s influenza season in New Zealand was early and appears to be declining earlier than usual.

While the figures indicate an early end to the flu season Dr Jefferies cautions it is still possible there might be a resurgence late in the flu season.

Phil advises getting immunised against influenza and paying particular attention to hand hygiene to reduce risk of picking up illnesses.

He says if you are at work and have symptoms suggestive of an infectious illness then go home.

“Isolate yourself from other people so you are less likely to spread it. As much as you might feel a duty to stay at work to get your work done, your work colleagues won’t thank you if you stay there and spread your germs to other people.”

He recommends getting your house prepared for winter in the summer months, remedying any leaks or drafts before the cold weather hits.

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