December 24, 2010

27 People Die From Flu In Britain, Continuing To Spread

Flu season has taken its toll on Britain this year, killing a total of 27 people across the European area. Health officials say 24 have died from the H1N1 strain, and 3 from the flu type B.

Eighteen of those who died were adults and nine were children. Data from GP surgeries says the biggest increase in flu cases is in school age children.

John Watson, head of the respiratory diseases department at the Health Protection Agency (HPA), says, "The level of flu activity we are currently seeing is at levels often seen during the winter flu seasons, but due to the fact that H1N1 is one of the predominant strains circulating at the moment, we are seeing more severe illness in people under the age of 65 than we would normally expect."

The Central region (including Wales) has the most cases, followed closely by the South, with fewer cases in the North.

High risk groups, particularly pregnant women and people with underlying health conditions, are urged to get vaccinated.

"Vaccines and vaccination can be an emotive issue and citizens rightly ask for assurance," says Marc Sprenger, director of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). "The scientific evidence shows that seasonal influenza vaccines are effective and very safe. They provide a protection of up to 80 percent against influenza on an individual basis."

The WHO says the H1N1 flu is more than likely the most dominant strain of the northern hemisphere's 2010/2011 flu season so the vaccine for this illness is being offered across the world.

Not only has the number of deaths increased, the number of people being admitted to the ICU has gone up as well. A study released on Tuesday reveals over 300 beds are now occupied by flu patients.

The most common complications of flu are bronchitis and secondary bacterial pneumonia.

A Department of Health spokesperson said the figures were "in keeping with what we would expect during a winter flu season".

But everyone can do their bit to help keep well - simple measures like washing your hands help stop the flu from spreading.

H1N1 flu was discovered in Mexico and the United States in March 2009 and spread rapidly across the world. The World Health Organization, which declared the pandemic over in August, said about 18,450 people died from the virus, including many pregnant women and young people.


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