More than 600 Whittlesea and Hume residents have been diagnosed with the flu so far this year, with officials warning that Victoria is in one of the worst flu seasons on record.

Health department data has revealed that as of August 29, 367 Hume residents have been diagnosed with the flu, compared to 184 people at the same time last year. In Whittlesea, there have been 265 people diagnosed, up from 108 last year.

Victoria’s chief health officer Charles Guest said the flu season started earlier this year, putting hospitals and paramedics under increasing pressure. Across Victoria, there have been more than 10,000 cases.

A Northern Health spokesman said that between May 1 and August 25, the organisation had treated 276 cases of the flu.

“Northern Health encourages anyone experiencing influenza-like symptoms to seek medical attention from their GP or local hospital,” the spokesman said.

Professor Guest said the elderly, infants and those with chronic conditions such as heart of lung disease, renal failure, diabetes and neurological conditions, the immuno-compromised, pregnant women, smokers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were at high risk of developing the flu.

“The most common symptoms of the flu are sudden fever, a dry cough, body aches and feeling very tired and weak,” he said.

“Infections in children may also be associated with gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Croup is a common presentation in children.”

Professor Guest said complications include middle ear infections and secondary bacterial pneumonia. He said the best way to stop the spread of the flu was to get vaccinated.

“With about two months of the flu season to go, it is still not too late to get your flu shot,” he said.