Seasonal flu rates remain low
Influenza (commonly referred to as 'seasonal flu') is a respiratory illness associated with infection by influenza virus. Seasonal flu is made up of several strains including H1N1 (swine flu). This year’s seasonal flu vaccines include protection against H1N1. The strains circulating this year include H1N1 and this strain has already been found in small numbers of people in Northern Ireland, and as such is not unusual. At this point in the year seasonal flu rates remain low compared to previous years. Most people recover quickly from flu, usually within five to eight days. A small number of people will become more severely ill, particularly those in an at-risk group or the elderly.
If you've got flu you're likely to develop some or all of the following symptoms:
- a sudden fever, with a high temperature (generally above 38°C/100°F)
- a chill
- a severe headache
- muscle aches and pains
- a sense of feeling weak and tired
- a dry cough
- a sore throat
Flu symptoms usually peak after two or three days and you should begin to feel much better within five to eight days. If you are becoming more ill, or you are in an at-risk group then contact your GP for advice. Elderly people or those in ‘at risk’ groups may develop complications that can lead to serious illness and can be life threatening.
People who are affected should remain off work until they have recovered. For more information on seasonal flu go to www.fluawareni.info At risk groups for flu, and who are advised to have the annual seasonal flu vaccine, include the following:
- Anyone aged 65 or over, even if they feel fit and healthy at the moment.
- Pregnant women (at any stage of pregnancy).
- Children and adults who have any of the following medical conditions:
- a chronic chest condition such as asthma;
- a chronic heart condition;
- chronic kidney disease;
- lowered immunity due to disease or treatment such as steroids or cancer therapy;
- a chronic neurological condition such as stroke, multiple sclerosis or a condition that affects your nervous system, such as cerebral palsy;
- any other serious medical condition – check with your doctor if you are unsure.
Influenza surveillance data can be viewed at http://www.publichealth.hscni.net/directorate-public-health/health-protection/seasonal-influenza