Flu death toll will be revealed


The number of people who have died as a result of flu so far this winter is set to be revealed

The number of people who have died as a result of flu so far this winter is set to be revealed by the Health Protection Agency.

The new statistics follow a warning from the HPA that cases of seasonal flu were on the increase.

Swine flu is still the most dominant strain this winter, but there are other types, including type B.

On Tuesday, the Department of Health said 14 people had died with confirmed swine flu and another three from flu type B so far this season. Of those who died, all were aged under 65, with six aged under 18.

Some 302 people were in intensive care with flu, including 24 children under five in intensive care with confirmed or suspected flu, another 12 aged five to 15, and 243 in the 16 to 64 age group.

There were also 23 people aged over 65 in intensive care with flu and 16 patients receiving specialist intensive care treatment, known as extra corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).

The Royal College of GPs said on Wednesday the rate of infection had more than doubled in the last week. Figures showed cases of flu had risen to 87.1 per 100,000 people, from 32.8 in the previous week.

Rates of flu were highest in youngsters aged five to 14, followed by those under four, then people aged 15 to 44. Experts are urging those in high-risk groups, particularly pregnant women, to get vaccinated.

To date, fewer patients than last year in at-risk groups have come forward for the seasonal flu jab. At-risk groups include pregnant women, everyone over the age of 65, people with chronic (long-term) respiratory disease (such as severe asthma or bronchitis), chronic heart disease or chronic kidney or liver disease.

Those with diabetes or a weakened immune system due to disease (such as HIV/Aids) or treatment are also included.

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