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Thirty-six ‘flu deaths’ reported to HPSC

The HSE has also confirmed today (Thursday, 26 January 2017) that influenza activity decreased further during the week ending 22 January.

Influenza A (H3N2) remains the predominant strain in circulation. However, it is possible that influenza B will circulate later in the season.

Commenting on the latest figures, Dr Kevin Kelleher, HSE Assistant National Director of Public Health, stated that the GP influenza-like illness (ILI) rate had decreased to 33.4 per 100,000 compared to the updated rate of 65 per 100,000 during the previous week.

Dr Kelleher noted that the ILI rate is now below the medium intensity level (medium intensity is 58.7/100,000 population and high intensity is 113.3/100,000 population). “The rate has been above the baseline (18.3/100,000) for seven consecutive weeks. Influenza activity peaked during the first week of January. It is expected that rates will continue to decline in the coming weeks,” he said.

 “Influenza A (H3N2) remains the predominant strain in circulation with those aged 65 years and older being the most affected. During the week ending 22 January, ILI rates decreased in all age groups and remained stable in those aged 0-4 years. However, it is possible that later in the season influenza B will circulate.”

To date this season, 1,009 hospitalised influenza cases, 35 ICU flu cases and 90 acute respiratory infections/influenza outbreaks (81 in residential care facilities/community hospitals and nine in acute hospitals) have been reported to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

Thirty-six deaths associated with influenza have been reported to the HPSC to date, the majority of these were aged 65 years and older.

Dr Cillian de Gascun, Director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory, stated: “Genetic analysis undertaken by the National Virus Reference Laboratory (NVRL) on a selection of influenza samples from patients showed that the majority (75 per cent) of the sequenced specimens of circulating influenza strains show a good match to the vaccine strain.”

The HSE has continued to provide the following advice to the public in relation to appropriate preventative measures: ‘Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough and sneeze (catch it), disposing of the tissue as soon as possible (bin it) and cleaning your hands as soon as you can (kill it) are important measures in helping prevent the spread of germs and reducing the risk of transmission.’

 Posters on respiratory etiquette are available on the HPSC website.

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