Wednesday 28 September 2016

Six more deaths from swine flu - bringing death toll to 26 this winter

Published 11/03/2016 | 15:27

'There have been 32 laboratory-confirmed deaths from the flu virus so far this winter, with most other patients dying from the B strain'. Photo: PA
'There have been 32 laboratory-confirmed deaths from the flu virus so far this winter, with most other patients dying from the B strain'. Photo: PA

Six more deaths from swine flu have been reported bringing the death toll from the virus to twenty six so far this winter.

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There have been 38 laboratory-confirmed deaths from the flu virus so far this winter with most other patients dying from the B strain.

The relatively high number of deaths from flu this winter comes despite it being a “ moderate” flu season overall.

The true number of people dying from flu-related deaths is much higher as not everyone that dies with an flu-like illness is tested.

Flu-associated deaths are often a result of complications secondary to the patient's main underlying  illness.

The flu is continuing to lead to hospitalisations and intensive care admissions, contributing to emergency department overcrowding.

The good news is that there has been a substantial fall in the rate of flu circulating indicating that the season is almost over.

The latest report from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre said five outbreaks of flu were reported in the week ending March 6th.

Flu is widespread around Europe but it is on the wane.

The average age of Irish patients who died of the flu this winter is 64.

The flu  has also contributed to the excess winter mortality reported in the first and last week of January.

These deaths are estimated by comparing deaths during this time with preceding time periods in Spring and autumn.

The majority of these excess winter deaths are caused by the flu and diseases of the cardiovascular system such as stroke and heart attack.

Cold has physiological effects on the body which can cause vulnerable people to die.It can cause a rise in blood pressure and the blood to become thicker, increasing the risk of blood clots.

The cold also lowers the immune system which leaves people less able to fight infections.

It recommended that antivirals be considered for the treatment and prevention of flu in high risk groups.

Studies show that prompt treatment with antiviral drugs can prevent serious flu complications.

Prompt treatment can mean the difference between having a milder illness versus very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay.

Treatment with antivirals works best when begun within 48 hours of getting sick, but can still be beneficial when given later in the course of illness.

Antiviral drugs are effective across all age-and risk groups.Antiviral drugs  tend to be under-prescribed for people who are at high risk of complications who get flu.

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