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Friday, December 17, 2010

CIDRAP : UK leads way as flu activity rises in Europe

An article from CIDRAP :

" Dec 16, 2010 : The United Kingdom is on the leading edge of an increase in influenza activity in Europe, with 57 respiratory disease outbreaks and an increase in critically ill patients and deaths reported in the country last week, according to the UK Health Protection Agency (HPA).

In its weekly flu update, the HPA said the rate of medical visits for flu-like illness exceeded baseline levels, reaching 34.6 per 100,000 population. The 2009 H1N1 and influenza B viruses are predominating so far this season, with only a few H3N2 viruses identified, the agency reported.

Flu activity is also rising across Europe, with increasing transmission in 11 countries, the European Centre For Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in a Eurosurveillance report today.

In the United Kingdom, of 17 people who have died of flu-related causes in the past 3 months, 7 deaths were reported last week, the two latest HPA reports show. Fourteen of the deaths were attributed to the 2009 H1N1 virus. All those who died were younger than 65, and 8 were in high-risk groups, though none were pregnant.

Seventeen critically ill patients have received extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) (the use of an artificial lung), out of 22 patients referred for it, the HPA reported. Four of the 17 were pregnant women.

Meanwhile, press reports suggested that flu activity in parts of Britain now is worse than at the peak of the 2009 pandemic, but a health official said the flu situation is no worse than in past years."

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