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1st cases of winter flu identified

[Posted: Thu 23/10/2008 by Deborah Condon www.irishhealth.com]

This winter's first two cases of influenza have been identified, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) has confirmed.

The two cases of influenza A virus were detected by a network of 54 general practices who report every week to the National Virus Reference Laboratory on the number of patients with flu-like illnesses.

According to Dr Joan O’Donnell of the HPSC, these cases were detected even though overall influenza activity is low.

Altogether, 150 laboratory confirmed cases of the influenza A virus were detected by the GP network during the 2007/08 season, peaking in January 2008.

“As we enter the flu season, it is recommended that people in high risk groups get vaccinated against influenza,” Dr O’Donnell said.

These include:
-People over 65.
-People with chronic diseases, such as chronic lung disease and diabetes.
-Those with lower immunity due to disease or treatment.
-Children or teenagers on long-term aspirin therapy.
-Residents of nursing homes and other long stay facilities.
-Healthcare workers.

‘The symptoms of influenza infection 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,” Dr O’Donnell explained.

She added that anyone in the high risk categories who develops flu symptoms should contact their GP.

For more information on the flu and the flu vaccine, click on… http://www.immunisation.ie/en/AdultImmunisation/FluVaccination/

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