Canberra mother of two has died of complications from influenza in what health authorities say is “one of the worst flu seasons on record” in Australia.
Jennifer Thew, from Gungahlin in Canberra’s north, died in Calvary Hospital over the weekend after contracting influenza.
Acting chief health officer Dr Andrew Pengilley said to his knowledge the “fit, young” woman was the only young adult in the country who had died from influenza this year.
Ms Thew is also the only person in Canberra to have died from the flu this year.
Victoria has seen a number of deaths due to influenza in the past month, including eight-year-old Rosie Andersen from Melbourne and eight people in an aged care facility in Wangaratta.
Six people also died in a nursing home in Tasmania in September.
A Victorian woman who recently gave birth was also placed in an induced coma earlier this month after contracting influenza while pregnant.
Dr Pengilley said ACT Health had received more than 2000 notifications of the flu so far this year, compared to about 840 last year.
“The vast majority of those, about 70 per cent, occurred in a four-week period,” he said.
“So we’ve seen both a very large number of cases and it’s been a very intense onset.”
Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris said she would receive a more detailed briefing on Ms Thew’s death this afternoon.
“We see every year people are really suffering because of the flu, often times that’s people who are already more vulnerable in a health sense,” she said.
“What we’ve seen this year, around the country and sadly now here in Canberra, is people that probably weren’t in particularly vulnerable groups, who may have caught the flu or influenza and then had further complications.”
Ms Fitzharris again urged Canberrans to get a flu vaccine.
“We’ve certainly seen increased reports of people with the flu and really the flu season isn’t over yet either,” she said.
“We know that the flu can spread quite easily and … if you are crook with the flu, you should stay home and you should make sure you not only protect yourself and your family, but others as well.”