Children with the flu should not be brought to meet their grandparents this winter, HSE experts have warned, as a flu strain that caused a pandemic 10 years ago will return this year.
The experts warned that this year’s flu is likely to be the H1N1 strain, which largely affects young people and pregnant women, and results in higher levels of admission to intensive care units.
They have advised everyone to wash their hands regularly to avoid the flu. ‘Flu is primarily an issue of children,’ HSE assistant national director for health protection Dr Kevin Kelleher said yesterday. ‘It is carried in children primarily and that’s where we all get infected from primarily. If there are lots of children around, it’s better not to bring them to see their granny.’
Dr Kelleher said that the flu around the world so far this year ‘has not been the B virus we saw last year’. He added: ‘It is the A virus and is actually the H1N1 virus that was the pandemic virus ten years ago. ‘A significant feature of that virus is that it affects younger people, pregnant women as well, and they are more likely to be admitted to hospital and move on to ICU.’
Dr Kelleher said that while he ‘can’t absolutely predict that this year will be a H1N1, it looks that way’. ‘We have about 30 or 40 cases so far this year – the majority of those have been A and H1N1,’ he added. However, Dr Kelleher said that the contents of this year’s flu are ‘almost virtually the same’ as what is in the vaccines and, as such, the health service is well prepared.
Medical experts warned that in order to reduce the spread of all infections over the winter months, including respiratory infections and vomiting bugs, those experiencing symptoms should isolate themselves. The national clinical adviser for acute hospitals, Dr Vida Hamilton, said that hand washing is ‘vitally important’ to protect those with chronic conditions this winter.
‘More than 60pc of people over 50 are living with a chronic condition such as asthma, COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease], diabetes and heart failure,’ she said. ‘They, along with patients living with cancer and immunosuppression, are more vulnerable to infection and need to protect themselves with vaccination against flu and pneumonia.’
The €30million winter plan is set to target older people in particular as they move from a hospital setting to community supports, reducing cases of delayed discharge. As part of the plan, the HSE will provide 66 additional community beds, four additional rehabilitation beds and 75 additional acute beds across the country.
A month-long period of intense targeted action is also being introduced from December 17 to January 13 aimed at nine sites of concern for the service. The sites include the country’s main healthcare facilities, such as Dublin’s Mater Hospital, University Hospital Galway and the Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore.
However, Irish Medical Council officials hit back at the proposals, saying that the plan would provide temporary relief for some patients, but did not …read more
Source:: Daily times