Flu cases on the rise over Christmas period

January 6th, 2008 - 1:42 pm ICT by admin  

London, Jan 6 (ANI): Cases of flu, colds and chest infections have been on the rise over the Christmas period in the UK, it has been reported.

From 21 December 2007 to 1 January 2008, 27,000 people contacted NHS Direct, the patient helpline, and reported flu-like symptoms.

To check symptoms of flu, colds and chest infections, another 20,000 people consulted the NHS Direct website.

Since January 1, tens of thousands more are believed to have visited GPs.

One in 10 callers reported flu symptoms, more than twice as many as those concerning vomiting and pains likely to indicate the norovirus stomach bug.

Mike Sadler, NHS Directs chief operating officer, said that both flu and norovirus likely to spread more quickly now that people were back at work and school after the holidays.

He also said that many callers reporting flu-like symptoms were unlikely to have full-blown flu.

“Genuine flu leaves people totally pole-axed. The majority of cases we are hearing about involve a very nasty respiratory tract infection which has persisted for some time and made people feel really unwell, with a fever and a cough or a sore throat,” the Telegraph quoted Sadler, as saying.

According to him, one cause for the rise in flu and associated illnesses could be the population’s lowered immunity, with no serious flu outbreaks since the millennium.

Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of microbiology at the University of Aberdeen, said that it was not feasible to predict the timing and nature of the next flu pandemic, however the danger was that it “might be like the worst one of the 20th century, when young adults were targeted, and more than 200,000 died [in the UK]“. (ANI)

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