Flu season taking off around Europe

Editorial Board

Editorial Board

February 2nd, 2016

Editorial Board

It came a little later than last year, but the seasonal flu epidemic is spreading across Europe.

Influenza usually hits Europe just before Christmas, with a surge in cases that eventually falls off in February.

In late 2015, the number of cases climbed near the end of the year but the curve was not as steep as the previous flu season year.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention & Control, along with the World Health Organisation, has been publishing weekly updates on the number of reported cases. This shows which flu strains are most commonly seen in Europe and compares this season’s trend to last year.

The ECDC has also produced a video outlining the importance of preventing flu infection. Kari Johansen, an influenza expert, explains that each year around one in 10 people are infected by a flu virus.

Influenza in Europe: Protect yourself and those around you from ECDC on Vimeo.

At best, infection can be a deeply unpleasant experience; at worst, it could come with serious complications requiring hospitalisation.

The majority of deaths occur in older people but even perfectly healthy young people are at risk. The best way to fight the flu is to prevent its spread in the community.

The World Health Organisation recommends that the following groups be treated as a priority for flu vaccination: pregnant women, older people, those with chronic disease, and children aged between six months and 59 months.