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David Cheskin

Flu is 'actively circulating' and on the rise in Ireland

The HSE said that the rate has risen by almost 14%.

FLU RATES ARE on the rise in Ireland, the HSE is warning.

Its Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) is now urging people to get vaccinated against influenza, saying that the number of reported cases of influenza-like illness (ILI) in Ireland has increased in the past week.

ILI rates have risen from 15.5 per 100,000 to 29.0 per 100,000 population, and are now above threshold levels.

This means that flu is actively circulating in the community, said HPSC director, Dr Darina O’Flanagan.

“Although flu is starting to circulate, flu levels currently remain relatively low,” she said. “Despite this, we have had a number of confirmed influenza outbreaks, mainly in residential facilities for the elderly and disabled. Influenza is expected to increase over the coming weeks and circulate for at least the next 6-8 weeks.”

She said that prevention is better than cure, and that the vaccine is available free of charge from GPs for all people in at-risk groups, and from pharmacists for everyone aged 65 and over.

An administration charge may apply to people who don’t hold medical cards or GP visit cards.

Who’s at risk?

The groups most at risk are:

  • All those aged 65 years and older
  • People including children with chronic illness requiring regular medical follow-up such as chronic lung disease, chronic heart disease, chronic neurological disorders, neuro-developmental disorders and diabetes
  • Those with lower immunity due to disease or treatment
  • All pregnant women. The vaccine can be given at any stage of pregnancy.
  • Those with morbid obesity i.e. Body Mass Index ≥ 40
  • Residents of nursing homes, old people’s homes and other long stay facilities
  • Health care workers and carers of those in risk groups.

Most people, unless they are in an at-risk group, can get better themselves at home, said the HSE.

You can find advice on getting over flu and other common illnesses at this HSE website.

Symptoms of influenza include:

  • A high temperature
  • Sore muscles
  • Dry cough
  • Headache
  • Sore throat. 

They usually develop over a matter of a few hours.

Dr O’Flanagan noted that anyone who gets flu should stay at home, rest, drink plenty of fluids and use over-the-counter remedies like paracetamol to ease their symptoms.

If you’re in one of the high-risk categories, you should contact your GP if you develop influenza symptoms.

Did you get a flu jab this year?

Poll Results:

No (3280)
Yes (1249)
I am planning on getting one (201)

First published, 15 January 8.20pm

Read: Jump in flu cases and doctor changeover: The ‘straw that breaks the camel’s back’>

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