THE HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre is urging people in high-risk categories to get vaccinated against influenza, as the number of reported cases of influenza-like illness (ILI) indicate that flu is now circulating.
In mid-December, the ILI rate was 24.9 cases per 100,000 population which is above the threshold used to access influenza activity. The threshold for the 2012/2013 influenza season is 21 cases per 100,000 population.
Among the high risk groups are pregnant women; people, including children, with chronic illness requiring regular medical followup such as chronic lung disease, chronic heart disease, and diabetes; those with lower immunity due to disease or treatment, including those who have had their spleens removed; children or teenagers on long-term aspirin therapy; residents of nursing homes, old people's homes and other long stay facilities and health care workers and carers of those in risk groups.
"The symptoms of influenza usually develop over a matter of a few hours and include a high temperature, sore muscles, dry cough, headache and sore throat," explained HPSC director, Dr Darina O'Flanagan.
"This is different from the common cold, which tends to come on more gradually and usually includes a runny nose and a normal temperature. Anyone who gets flu should stay at home, rest, drink plenty of fluids and use over-thecounter remedies like paracetamol to ease symptoms.
"People in high-risk categories should contact their GP if they develop influenza symptoms."