herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Fifteen deaths from flu bug as care homes hit

Mater hospital
Mater hospital

Fifteen deaths associated with the flu have been reported this season, new figures reveal.

The majority of confirmed flu outbreaks this season have been associated with influenza A (H3) in residential care facilities for the elderly.

The national disease watchdog, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), said that in Europe, increased flu activity has continued, in particular in western and central European countries.

While there was a rise of flu cases in community and hospital settings during the week ending March 1 in Ireland, there were some indicators of flu activity decreasing.

That would be a welcome development for overcrowded emergency departments around the country.

The latest figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) revealed that there were 431 patients on trolleys and on wards waiting for a bed nationwide yesterday.

Its figures showed that 38 patients were waiting at Beaumont Hospital, 27 at the Mater University hospital and 26 at Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown.

Nationwide, there were 355 patients languishing on trolleys and 76 on wards, according to the figures from the INMO.

Its figures showed that a total of 151 patients were affected in the Eastern region.

Meanwhile, the Mater University Hospital has warned that it is currently experiencing an outbreak of norovirus, which is known as the winter vomiting bug.

As the virus is highly contagious the hospital said last night that it is appealing to the general public to avoid visiting the hospital, unless absolutely necessary, until further notice.

Noroviruses are one of the most common causes of gastroenteritis, or stomach bugs.

Symptoms include nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Some people can also have a raised temperature, chills, muscle aches and headaches.

The symptoms tend to begin around 12 to 48 hours after becoming infected. The illness is usually brief, with symptoms lasting only around one or two days.

The bug is very contagious and can spread easily from person to person.

notified

People infected with it are contagious from the moment they fall unwell until two to three days after recovery.

Nationwide, there has already been an increase in the number of cases this year, with 359 cases notified to the HPSC in the first eight weeks of this year.

Outbreaks of norovirus in public places such as hospitals, nursing homes and schools are common.

Experts say this is because the virus can survive for several days on surfaces or objects which have been touched by an infected person.

fdllon@herald.ie

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