Flu activity update: 17 January 2013
17 January 2013
Latest figures from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) up to 13 January 2013 show that flu activity has decreased compared to the previous week based on a number of indicators, including GP consultation rates in England and the proportion of calls to NHS direct.
The latest figures show that GP consultation rates in England have decreased from 29.2 per 100,000 last week to 24.8 this week. Rates have also decreased in Northern Ireland (72.4 down from 87.0), increased in Scotland (52.22 up from 46.3) and remained stable in Wales (26.1 compared to 33.0).
The calls received by NHS Direct concerning influenza dropped below 1.6 per cent compared to 2.0 per cent last week.
Dr Nick Phin, seasonal flu surveillance expert at the HPA said: “Overall flu activity has decreased compared to the previous week.
“Vaccination against flu is still the most effective way of preventing the virus in people who are in an ‘at risk’ group, as they are more vulnerable to developing complications from flu. This includes people with underlying conditions such as heart problems, diabetes, lung, liver or renal diseases and those with weakened immune systems, as well as older people and pregnant women.
“It still remains very important that everyone does their best to prevent the spread of the flu virus by maintaining good cough and hand hygiene such as covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough and sneeze, disposing of the tissue promptly and washing your hands as soon you can.”
Flu is a self-limiting illness and if you have flu it is best to stay at home until you are well. If people in at risk groups, develop symptoms consistent with flu, or if anyone’s symptoms persist or become more severe, we advise they seek medical advice.
Notes to editors
- For the full weekly flu report, please refer to the HPA National Influenza Report - week 3 (2013) (PDF, 630 KB) document.
- For the latest national influenza graphs, please view the PHE Weekly National Influenza Graphs (PDF, 596 KB) document.
- Following HPA advice on the increasing levels of flu circulating, the Department of Health has issued guidance to GPs on the use of antiviral drugs for the management of people presenting with flu-like illness in England who are at higher risk of developing complications from flu.
- To see the current guidance for prescribing antivirals please go to: www.nice.org.uk [external link]. It does not recommend antivirals for the prevention of flu in otherwise healthy people under 65, even if they have been in close contact with someone with a flu-like illness.
- For further information about the flu vaccination, including who should have it please visit the NHS website [external link].
- For information on why healthcare workers should receive the flu vaccine please visit the NHS Employers website [external link].
- For more information on influenza, please visit the HPA website's Seasonal Influenza page.
- The Health Protection Agency is an independent UK organisation that was set up by the government in 2003 to protect the public from threats to their health from infectious diseases and environmental hazards. In April 2013, subject to the usual approvals procedures for establishing new bodies, the Health Protection Agency will become part of a new organisation called Public Health England, an executive agency of the Department of Health. To find out more, visit our website: http://www.hpa.org.uk or follow us on Twitter @HPAuk or ‘Like’ us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HealthProtectionAgency [external link].
- For more information please contact the national HPA press office at Colindale on 0208 327 7901 or email email@example.com. Out of hours the duty press officer can be contacted on 0208 200 4400.
Last reviewed: 17 January 2013