An influenza outbreak has swept through a regional Victorian aged care home, killing seven residents and leaving another 100 people ill.
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.
The St John’s Retirement Village in Wangaratta houses 146 residents and employs 200 staff, with 123 people affected by flu during the outbreak over the past few weeks, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
This winter has been one of the worst flu seasons on record in Australia and is expected to surpass the deadly flu outbreak of 2015 that saw close to 40,000 reported cases. Sadly, seven of them passed away from complications.
Victoria’s acting chief health officer Dr Brett Sutton said the flu was particularly risky for frail people in aged care facilities.
Sutton says the seven deaths counted there since August 16 made this outbreak the worst he had encountered during his seven years in the state health department. “About 800 people in Victoria die each year from influenza – the most of any communicable disease”.
He urged people with flu symptoms to reconsider visiting aged care facilities and to implement good hygiene.
So far this year, 11,300 flu cases have been confirmed in Victoria, a state with a population of 6.2 million.
The ABC reports there have been twice as many outbreaks of the flu this year than there were in 2016, with 208 respiratory outbreaks in aged care homes this year compared with 104 for the same period last year.