22nd Jan, 2018

Worrying rise in flu cases prompts West Midlands health warning

Felix Nobes 12th Jan, 2018

A RISE in flu cases has prompted a warning from Public Health West Midlands.

Public Health England (PHE) in the West Midlands is urging people to prevent the spread of flu across the region by staying away from hospitals unless absolutely necessary and washing hands regularly.

Solihull has recently fallen into the dark red zone on the Flu Survey’s influenza-like illness (ILI) map, which shows a gradient from no reported ILI (bright blue) to very high ILI (bright red). Dark red is the second most severe rate.

Nationally, Public Health England statistics have shown there has been a 78 per cent rise in flu GP cases on last week, marking the most severe flu season in seven years.

The flu hospitalisation rate has also doubled since last week, and there has been a 65 per cent increase in the flu intensive care admission rate.

Dr Helen Carter, deputy director at Public Health England (PHE) West Midlands, said: “Our data shows that more people are visiting GPs with flu symptoms and we are seeing more people admitted to hospitals with the flu.

“We are currently seeing a mix of flu types, including the A(H3N2) strain that circulated last winter in the UK and then in Australia.

“The vaccine is the best defence we have against the spread of flu and it isn’t too late for people to go to their GP or pharmacist and get vaccinated – especially those in risk groups including those aged 65 and over, pregnant women or those with a long-term medical condition.

“Symptoms of flu include sudden onset of fever, cough as well as sore throat, aching muscles and joints.

“The best advice is to rest, keep warm and drink plenty of water.

“We also recommend people take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower a high temperature and relieve aches if necessary.

“People suffering with flu-like symptoms should catch coughs or sneezes in tissues and bin them immediately, wash their hands regularly with soap and warm water and frequently clean regularly used surfaces to stop the spread of flu.

“It is also important to avoid unnecessary contact with other people if you have symptoms of flu, and that includes not just going into your GP surgery or the local A&E department.

“Anyone concerned about their symptoms should stay at home and contact their GP or call NHS 111 to seek further advice.

“For most healthy people, recovering from flu can take roughly a week.

“However, for those that are more vulnerable, it can be more severe and it is important to be aware of this.”

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