Young and old still at risk as flu peaks
THE flu season is starting to wane – but young children and the oldest age groups continue to be hit hardest by the viruses which remain circulating.
The winter death toll from flu rose to 19 last week after three more pensioners died from its complications. Fifteen deaths have been recorded among the over-65s so far this winter, with two more in children and another two in adults.
However, the good news is that the flu season now appears to be past its peak and there was a decrease in activity last week, according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.
The centre said that while it still remained at elevated levels, there were signs that it was starting to diminish, with a fall in patients presenting to GPs with flu-like illnesses.
The highest rates were seen in children under five and adults over the age of 65. Fourteen outbreaks were reported during the week, most of them in nursing homes and community facilities.
There were 113 patients admitted to hospital due to flu last week. These were mostly the elderly and babies under the age of one, the report revealed. So far this winter, 62 patients who had confirmed flu were admitted to intensive care.
A spokesman for the watchdog said that the kind of viruses circulating this winter were not unusual.
"These have a seasonal pattern and the same viruses are circulating as usual this year."
Strains of influenza A – including swine flu – are the most dominant, and all of these are covered in the seasonal flu vaccine.