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Friday, December 17, 2010

England : Leicestershire's influenza outbreak 'is the worst in a decade'

Via This Is Leicestershire :

" Leicestershire is in the grip of a serious outbreak of influenza and respiratory disease.

Health experts believe it could be as bad as the flu epidemic of 1999-2000 when 22,000 people across the country died – 10 times the average for a winter flu season.

They are seeing increasing numbers of patients falling ill with different strains of the illness, including swine flu and the disease respiratory syncytial virus, which is known as RSV, to which children are especially vulnerable.

Dr Philip Monk, a public health consultant with the Health Protection Agency, said: "There is a lot of winter virus illness at the moment. It is very bad and could be as bad as 1999/2000.

"I couldn't begin to put a number on those affected. It began during the last week of November and, like a pandemic, it really gets going in the first four weeks. Weeks six to 10 are the worst, and then numbers begin to tail off again. This means the worst period will be as we enter the festive period."

Dr Monk believes the number of bugs circulating could be related to the weather.

He said: "A lot of viruses do better in drier conditions.

"Although it may be raining, the atmosphere is not moist and this could be part of the reason."

Doctors at Glenfield Hospital's intensive care unit are fighting to save the lives of five people from around the country who are seriously ill with swine flu, using their specialist Ecmo treatment unit.

The hospital is one of just five providing the treatment, which involves oxygenating a patient's blood outside of their body so their lungs can recover."

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