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Above average levels of flu on island

Government has warned the public about a surge in influenza cases on the island. According to the Ministry of Health and Seniors, reports of fever, respiratory symptoms and influenza are all above normal levels for this time of the year.

A spokeswoman for the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit said: “During the most recent four-week period, 387 cases of fever and respiratory symptoms have been reported as compared to the five-year average for years 2012-2016 of 198 cases.

“The ESU continues to closely monitor this situation, which is currently at medium alert. Further updates will be given if the alert level rises.”

According to figured provided by the Bermuda Hospitals Board, 27 cases of “influenza with respiratory manifestations” have been reported at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital this year as of February 10, along with 91 “unspecified viral infections”.

The figures represent a 33 per cent increase from the same period last year, when only six influenza cases and 83 cases of unspecified viral infections were reported.

Young people showed the highest risk of catching a virus, with 46 of the cases involving a patient under the age of 16. The next most commonly affected group were those between the ages of 30 and 44, and those between 45 and 64.

The public is reminded that to reduce the spread of influenza and other respiratory viruses the following guidelines should be followed:

• All individuals, six months of age and older, are encouraged to be vaccinated against influenza each season. Consult your physician or the Department of Health, Victoria Street Hamilton, at (441) 278-6460 for more information.

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

• Stay home from work, school or public places if you are having influenza-like symptoms.

• Wash hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, especially with unwashed hands.

• Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your upper sleeve or elbow. Throw tissues in the trash.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, for example door knobs, telephones, and bathroom fixtures, especially when someone is ill.

• Practise other good health habits such as: get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

Some people are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications such as people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, and young children. Persons who develop symptoms of an influenza-like illness such as fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and tiredness should consult their physician for advice.