HSE urges the public to play their part in reducing infection as Flu actively circulates in the community

Coldflu hse

The HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) asked the public to help prevent the spread of flu, as the latest figures show that the disease is now actively circulating in the community.

There were 170 cases to the HPSC in the week ending 13th Nov with this increasing to 192 in the week ending 20th Nov

During week 46 influenza increased in all age groups but particularly in those aged 0-14 years. Cases of influenza A (H3N2), influenza A (H1N1) 09 and influenza B have been notified to HPSC in recent weeks.

Dr Greg Martin, HSE HPSC Director said: “People in at-risk categories need to get vaccinated against flu if they have not done so already. The influenza-like illness (ILI) rate for the week ending 20th November was 22.5 cases per 100,000 population which is above the threshold of 18.1 cases per 100,000, indicating that influenza is now actively circulating in the community.

“The symptoms of influenza usually develop over a matter of a few hours and include a high temperature, sore muscles, dry cough, headache and sore throat. This is different from the common cold, which tends to come on more gradually and usually includes a runny nose and a normal temperature.”

Vaccination remains the most effective means of preventing infection by seasonal influenza viruses and can reduce severe disease that can lead to hospitalisation and death. The vaccine takes two weeks to take effect once received.

The flu vaccine is a safe and effective prevention measure against flu and is provided free of charge for people in at risk groups, which includes everyone aged 65 years and over, children aged 2 to 17 years, pregnant women, anyone under 65 years of age with a long term illness requiring regular medical follow-up such as chronic lung disease, chronic heart disease, diabetes, cancer or those with lower immunity due to disease or treatment, those living in a nursing homes or other long-term care facilities and those in regular contact with pigs, poultry, or waterfowl.

The vaccine is also recommended for all healthcare workers and carers to protect themselves and those they care for.  You can get the vaccine at your GP or pharmacy. Find a participating pharmacy at https://www2.hse.ie/services/pharmacies-flu/.

Dr Martin advised: “Anyone who gets flu should stay at home, rest, drink plenty of fluids and use over-the-counter remedies like paracetamol to ease symptoms. Anyone in one of the at-risk groups who develops flu symptoms or anyone who is not in an at-risk group, but whose flu symptoms are severe or getting worse, should contact their GP. GPs may wish to prescribe antiviral medication for patients in these categories.

“If you need to visit your GP or the Emergency Department, please phone first to explain that you might have flu.”

Covering your cough and sneeze can also help stop the spread of flu.

Other key steps include:

·       Use a tissue and place it immediately in the bin. Wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer.

·       If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve.

·       DON’T cough or sneeze into your hands. You’ll end up spreading germs to everything you touch.

For more information, visit https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/flu/

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