If you're breathing a sign of relief that the dreaded winter illness season is finally over, don't breathe too deeply - as authorities warn of a new set of risks emerging this spring.
The number of flu and COVID cases have tapered off in recent weeks, after peaking in mid-July, but according to NSW Health that doesn't there aren't illnesses floating around as the weather warms.
In recent days, the health department has put out alerts about smoke, pollen, dirt and other germs, which can se certain types of illnesses spike at this time of year.
For starters, as fire agencies race to do the necessary hazard reduction burns before it gets too hot, there's an increased risk of asthma or respiratory illness for some people.
On September 14, health alert was been issued for Illawarra people with chronic health conditions, as smoke from a huge, 2700 hectare hazard reduction burn taking place in Holsworthy Military Barracks blanketed the region.
People with a heart or lung conditions, including asthma; people age 65 years or older; infants and children; and pregnant women were urged to take precautions.
NSW Health advice:
Also this week, NSW Health has asked people to be aware of the signs and symptoms of rare but severe, invasive bacterial infections following a recent increases in cases.
Dr Trevor Chan, from the Emergency Care Institute at the Agency for Clinical Innovation, said late winter and spring were usually peak times for meningococcal disease in NSW, while cases of invasive group A Streptococcus (iGAS) are steadily increasing.
"While meningococcal and iGAS are rare, both can be very serious and can cause death or permanent disability," he said.
"So far, 28 cases of meningococcal disease have been reported in NSW this year. 544 cases of iGAS have been notified in NSW to the end of August this year."
He said invasive bacterial infections appeared similar to more common viral illnesses in their early stages, and can occur at the same time, or follow a viral infection.
They can also lead to sepsis, a life-threatening condition in which people report feeling the sickest they have ever felt.
Other indicators of serious illness include fever, a fast heart rate, difficulty breathing, cold hands and feet or a mottled look to the skin, difficulty waking or increased lethargy or confusion.
A person may also have nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea, headache or muscle aches and pains.
People with meningococcal disease may experience severe headache, neck stiffness, dislike of bright lights, or unexplained joint or limb pain. A non-blanching rash of red-purple spots may also occur but often presents later in the illness. Do not wait for a rash to occur to seek urgent medical care.
People with iGAS may develop a red, warm, painful, and rapidly spreading skin infection which may have pus or ulceration.
As the warm weather entices more people outside, NSW Health also issued a warning for gardeners, who might be exposed to Legionnaires' disease.
There have been 54 cases of Legionnaires' disease so far this year from the type of bacteria that can be found in potting mix and soils in NSW, while 132 cases were reported last year.
NSW Health Executive Director for Health Protection Dr Jeremy McAnulty said gardeners should be cautious when handling potting mix, mulch, and compost, which can contain the bacteria that causes the lung infection.
"Before opening the bag, put on a mask and gloves so you don't breathe in the dust or get it on your hands," he said.
"Wetting the potting mix, mulch or compost can reduce the dust blowing up into the air."
"Even if you've been wearing gloves, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap before eating or drinking as the bacteria could still be there."
Symptoms of Legionnaires' disease include fever, chills, a cough, shortness of breath, aching muscles, headache, tiredness, loss of appetite and diarrhoea. It can develop up to 10 days after exposure to the bacteria.
''Most people who breathe in the bacteria don't become ill, but the risk of infection increases if you're older, a smoker, or have a weakened immune system," Dr McAnulty said.
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