It all started with joint aches and excessive sweating before David Owen became delirious and started hallucinating.

The self-employed Whangarei landscaper has just endured a torrid two week battle with flu and dreads to think what his temperature may have been at the worst of times.

He spoke about his fight with flu after the Northland District Health Board this week said the Whangarei Hospital's emergency department experienced a 17 per cent increase in patients with winter illnesses between January and July this year than for the same time in 2016.

One person admitted to ICU in a critical condition has since been discharged.


Mr Owen said he did not feel okay on the morning of July 10 and started experiencing aches and pains that evening.

"My body was literally pouring with sweat. On Tuesday evening my temperature got really bad, I started becoming delirious, couldn't sleep and moved from room to room.

"I tried to drink as much fluid as I could and took paracetamol. I ended up to a point where I thought if I needed to take paracetamol with water, I'd throw up so I drank bottle after bottle of Powerade.

"Two days into the bug, nothing tasted right and even cigarettes tasted so vile I gave up smoking which is a good thing," he said.

Mr Owen said in the 13 years he has lived in New Zealand and before that in the UK, he had never been so ill.

"In the first five days, I had hallucinations when I closed my eyes. I was seeing different faces one after the other . . . shadowy figures."

He said the hallucination stopped when he rehydrated himself.

Just when he thought he was on the mend on Tuesday and stopped taking Powerade, he started getting blinding headaches and became dehydrated.


He saw a doctor on Thursday who confirmed he had a viral flu and advised him to continue taking paracetamol and lots of fluid.

Mr Owen suspects he caught a bug while pushing a trolley at a supermarket a day or two before he felt unwell.

"I am a gardener and landscaper and don't see or come into contact with people as often as others do but next time I am out and about, I'll make sure I have wet wipes and a hand sanitiser."

He has advised people to always wash their hands and to keep fluid up either before, during or after a flu.

Alongside the NDHB which is seeing an average of 119 people a day this month, St John Ambulance is also reporting an increase in calls during winter months.

Emergency calls to 111 for an ambulance increased by 6 per cent in Northland in June, up 6 per cent on the same month last year.