Flu patient in critical care as cases double in a week
ALERT: Advice is to wash hands as parents warned of risks to toddlers
A PATIENT has been admitted into critical care suffering from seasonal flu.
As the number of recorded cases reached 660 in a week, parents have been warned that toddlers are most at risk.
Despite the reports of one person being hospitalised, the number of flu patients has remained unusually low, according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.
It said around 660 cases of flu had been reported in the first week of 2012 -- 15 cases for every 100,000 people.
In comparison, 8,976 cases were reported for the same time period last year or 204 cases for every 100,000 people.
The number of flu patients recorded nonetheless doubled in just a week -- only 308 cases were recorded in the last week of 2011.
Dr Muiris Houston remarked that the flu season had been extremely "quiet" so far.
The first flu case to be admitted into critical care was confirmed last week -- quite late in the season -- and there have been no reports of deaths, related to the flu, so far this winter.
Meanwhile, three other patients have been hospitalised with flu strain influenza A.
So far, the highest rates of flu are being experienced among the toddler age group (0 to four-year-olds).
Medical experts have advised members of the public to wash their hands regularly and clean any items that may be shared to avoid the spread of viruses.
People suffering from flu and cold-like symptoms have been advised to drink plenty of fluids and get some rest.
Flu usually presents with sudden onset of fever -- a temperature over 38C -- and cough or sore throat. Other symptoms can include a runny or stuffy nose, limb or joint pains, headache, vomiting or diarrhoea.
Patients have also been warned not to take antibiotics unless their GPs have confirmed that they are suffering from a bacterial infection.
Dr Houston remarked that this year's flu vaccine appeared to be efficient and helped keep the number of flu cases low.
"Three components of this year's vaccine [are] holding their own against the main strains in circulation," he noted in the Irish Medical Times
This year, the Government has introduced new regulations allowing pharmacists to dispense the flu vaccine to anyone aged 65 or older under the HSE programme.