Over the last few days, the UK Chief Medical Officers have been alerted by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) and other sources that the incidence of severe illness due to influenza infection requiring access to critical care services has increased. Many, but not all, of those cases have underlying conditions including pregnancy.
Please do not be alarmed by news coverage, sadly people die from flu-related illnesses every year around the world. Although levels of illness are currently within what we would normally expect for this time of the year, it is important to remind those people eligible for the seasonal flu immunisation to ensure they have their vaccine. This year's flu jab is a combination vaccine protecting against three flu strains, including swine flu and influenza B.
As with last year, most patients are experiencing mild illness not requiring hospital admission or any specialist treatment. However, for those individuals in at risk categories, such as the elderly, the chronically ill, immuno-compromised, and pregnant women, the infection can be serious.
It is important that anyone suffering flu symptoms should stay at home, take paracetamol if appropriate, keep well hydrated and should contact their GP by telephone or their NHS Helpline number if symptoms persist or get worse:
NHS Direct on 0845 46 47
NHS Direct Wales 0845 4647
NHS 24 (Scotland) 0845 4242424
NHS Northern Ireland 08000514142
www.hpa.org.uk for more information.
You can protect yourself and your family by:
You can prevent a virus spreading to others by:
Cigna UK Occupational Health Manager
17th December 2010