Monday, 17 January 2011 15:24
Each winter there is an increase in the number of people suffering with flu, commonly known as the flu season.
The emergency department in Mayo General Hospital, Castlebar, is now experiencing the annual seasonal flu season and, as had been expected, this year the predominant flu virus is the H1N1 virus also known as swine
This flu virus mainly affects younger people and those with pre-existing medical conditions, while women who are pregnant or have been in the last six to eight weeks are also particularly at risk.
Mr. Charlie Meehan, general manager, Mayo General Hospital, said: "Mayo General is very busy at the moment with patients attending with flu-like symptoms.
"Most people who get the flu are able to self medicate and be looked after at home, with rest and plenty of fluids, as is normal with seasonal flu.
"However, as had been anticipated, this winter some people have more severe symptoms and I would encourage them to contact their GP or the GP out-of-hours service first rather than coming direct to the emergency department.
"Some people will require hospitalisation but I would urge anyone who has flu symptoms to contact their GP in the first instance.
"I would encourage people to take all alternative action before attending the emergency departments at Mayo General, self-medication, advice from your pharmacist, GP or out-of-hours GP service."Anyone who has not already had the vaccine, particularly pregnant women, people with long term health conditions, people aged 65 and over and their carers and healthcare workers should consider getting the vaccine."
The best protection from this virus is the flu vaccine. This year's seasonal flu vaccine also has protection against the H1N1 virus (swine flu) along with two other potential flu viruses.
The seasonal flu vaccine is available from your GP. This year's seasonal flu vaccination campaign, which began in September 2010, includes pregnant women for the first time. Women who are now pregnant should be routinely offered the seasonal flu vaccine.
This year a large number of people in Ireland will be immune to the H1N1 virus, either because they had the virus last year or because they received the vaccine during the Swine Flu Vaccination Programme that ran from November 2009 to March 2010.
In particular, the groups most affected by H1N1 were widely vaccinated - including children, young people, those with chronic illness and pregnant women.
For further information on the seasonal flu vaccination and the symptoms of H1N1 virus, please see www.hse.ie. The website also features detailed questions and answers on flu, the symptoms, how to treat them and how to care for flu at home.
Weekly influenza surveillance reports are available on www.hpsc.ie.