Authorities warn of six more weeks of flu season

Authorities warn of six more weeks of flu season

The HSE has said this year's flu season would appear to have already peaked.

For almost three weeks in a row, there has been a drop in the number of flu cases.

The health authority's assistant director for public health, Dr Kevin Kelleher, said all indicators this week suggested it had peaked.

Dr Kelleher said the current flu season was different from last year.

“It came later; it is nowhere near as intense, and it appears to be a much narrower season as well,” he said.

There have been 25 deaths during the current flu season.

Last week 300 people with the illness were hospitalised, bringing the number of such admissions to 1,066, with 65 admitted to intensive care.

A report by the HSE's Health Protection Surveillance Centre, published today, describes the 2017/18 flu season as “severe” with a high impact on the health system.

Over the 2017/18 flu season, 4,713 people with the illness were hospitalised, with 191 admitted to intensive care and there were 255 deaths.

All age groups were affected during the 2017/18 flu season, particularly those age 65 years and older.

The latest report from the HPSC shows that flu increased in children aged five to 14 last week and decreased in those aged 65 years and older.

The dominant flu type in circulation during the current flu season is A (H1N1). During the previous season, there was a high level of the B flu virus and it had a significant impact on the health system.

Flu will continue to circulate for at least the next six weeks.

HSE national director of services, Joe Ryan, said there had been an increase in people attending emergency departments despite a drop in the number of flu cases.

Mr Ryan said quite a lot of people with other respiratory infections were attending EDs. “Despite declining levels of flu there are still very high levels of respiratory attendances in our hospitals,” he told a media briefing.

The HSE had appealed to people to avoid going to EDs during the nurses' 24-hour strike on Wednesday unless absolutely necessary.

Mr Ryan said there were 227 patients waiting on trolleys in EDs today, a 41% decrease on the same day last year and a 33% decrease on the same day last week.

We do thank the public for not attending the ED when it was not absolutely necessary.

"That has helped to keep that trolley count lower during the industrial action. So we do appreciate that." he said.

Mr Ryan said the number of ED attendances and admissions so far this year was higher than the same period last year. However, the increase was due to a growth in younger age groups as the number of people over 75 had not changed.


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