BATTLING ILLNESS: Some patients have not survived a bad season for 'flus and similar viruses on the Coast.
BATTLING ILLNESS: Some patients have not survived a bad season for 'flus and similar viruses on the Coast. Sunshine Coast Daily Archives

Nagging cough becomes a killer

PATIENTS have died in what a Sunshine Coast general practitioner has rated one of the worst seasons in years for 'flu and similar viruses.

Doctor Mason Stevenson, a past president of the Sunshine Coast Local Medical Association and the Australian Medical Association of Queensland, said some elderly people and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients had succumbed to pneumonia as a result of infections.

"We've certainly lost a few patients this year under the circumstances in recent weeks and recent months," Dr Stevenson said.

Dr Stevenson said doctors had seen more patients than usual this winter and spring who were struggling to shake off a prolonged cough and bouts of bronchitis after suffering other 'flu-like symptoms.

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"It's not one virus predominantly. We're seeing parainfluenza virus, RSV, and another one that we're seeing as well is human metapneumovirus," he said.

Parainfluenza (which is not the same as the 'flu), respiratory syncytial virus, and human metapneumo- -virus all start with similar cold-like symptoms of runny noses and sore throats, but can lead to respiratory infections.

RSV and human metapneumovirus are known as the most common causes of respiratory illnesses in children.

Dr Stevenson said patients who were elderly or had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease often found it difficult to fight respiratory infections which led to pneumonia and "unfortunately, some have succumbed".

He said the 'flu season was not quite over but "this winter has certainly started out as the most cases we've seen for a while".

Dr Stevenson said reports of a 24-hour gastro bug circulating on the Coast could be 'flu or food poisoning.

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