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Britain hit by severe Spring flu outbreak

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    Posted: March 27 2016 at 7:56pm
Britain hit by severe Spring flu outbreak

Health officials issue warnings as flu figures reach five-year high



By Nicola Harley

10:28AM GMT 25 Mar 2016

A flu outbreak is sweeping the country as the number of people struck down reaches a five-year high.

Public Health England (PHE) is warning people to be aware of the risk of flu over the Easter period after the latest figures reveal numbers are continuing to rise, with more than 320 people admitted to hospital in the last two weeks - four times the normal figure.

It says the under-45s seem to be most at risk. Rates are highest in the 15 to 44 age group, followed closely by children aged five to 14.

"Although we’re nearing April and the perception may be flu season is over, we are seeing flu continue to circulate in the community, along with other seasonal illnesses like scarlet fever. For most people influenza infection is just a nasty experience, but for some it can lead to illnesses that are more serious, including bronchitis and secondary bacterial pneumonia, which can be life threatening."
Dr Richard Pebody, Head of flu surveillance for PHE

Last year flu figures peaked in January.

Dr Richard Pebody, head of flu surveillance for PHE said: "Although we’re nearing April and the perception may be flu season is over, we are seeing flu continue to circulate in the community, along with other seasonal illnesses like scarlet fever. For most people influenza infection is just a nasty experience, but for some it can lead to illnesses that are more serious, including bronchitis and secondary bacterial pneumonia, which can be life threatening.

"Although it is late in the season, vaccine may still be available from GPs and pharmacists for those in eligible risk groups who are unvaccinated. This includes children and adults with long term health conditions and pregnant women, so speak to your GP or pharmacist about the vaccine if you’re eligible and haven’t had it yet this flu season. It’s also important people, particularly those in vulnerable groups, remain aware of the risks of flu and practise good hand hygiene to prevent the spread of flu.

"For most people flu is generally a mild illness with recovery taking around a week without treatment. But people in vulnerable groups, or parents of children with flu should be aware of the risks of the virus, and contact their GP if they are concerned about their symptoms. People at high risk of the virus may need treatment with antivirals."

Figures from Public Health England show that the number of patients seeing their GP with symptoms is ata five-year high for this time of year.

For the past few years the dominant strain has been H1N1, also known as swine flu.

PHE says data from previous flu seasons shows this strain particularly affects children, pregnant women, and adults with long term conditions like chronic heart disease, liver disease, neurological disease and respiratory disease in particular.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/flu/12204145/Britain-hit-by-severe-Spring-flu-outbreak.html
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