Sunday 21 January 2018

Number of flu victims soared over Christmas

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

THE numbers of people falling ill with flu doubled over Christmas, a new report revealed last night.

The report revealed how GPs are seeing a big rise in patients, including young children and teenagers, with flu-like symptoms; while there has been also a large increase in people admitted to hospital, some of whom are so serious they needed to be placed in intensive care.

The official confirmation that swine flu and other strains of the virus are gaining a grip on the country was revealed in a report from the country's disease watchdog, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre of Ireland. It showed that 36 people have been hospitalised with flu so far this winter, with 22 of these admitted last week.

Five people have so far been admitted to intensive care with complications of flu this winter, including two who were deemed very ill over Christmas.

GPs also reported the rate at which patients are seeking treatment for flu-like illness rose to 62.7 per 100,000 last week, compared to 24.7 per 100,000 earlier this month.

The report said that as of yesterday 120 confirmed cases of flu were notified and most of these were the swine flu virus. However, cases of Influenza A and B are also emerging.

Nineteen of the people with confirmed swine flu so far have been pregnant or women who have recently given birth.

Nine were children under the age of five, 10 were aged 5-14 years and 95 were in the 15 to 64 age bracket. Four were in older age groups. Two were unknown.

Fear

The fear is that as schools re-open next week there will be a further spread of swine flu among youngsters who have not been vaccinated.

The Health Service Executive is advising all those at risk, including people with underlying illnesses and pregnant women, to avail of the free flu vaccine. The vaccine is free to all those in at risk groups although they will have to pay an administration fee to a GP unless they have a medical card.

However, Boots stores around the country administer the vaccine free to those at risk without any fee.

So far no deaths from flu have been reported here this winter unlike the UK, where it has claimed the lives of 39 people so far.

Irish Independent

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