Flu cases rise in England15th December 2008
The number of people with flu in the UK is increasing and GPs are being told to issue prescriptions for antiviral medication.
NHS Direct and the Royal College of GPs have said they have seen significantly increased numbers of people who have flu symptoms.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) also reports 23 "outbreaks".
GP figures show a 60% increase in flu-type sickness from 16.5 per 100,000 consultations to 27.6.
NHS Direct has reported that the number of people calling in with flu symptoms has doubled since September.
Over the last week the amount of calls related to colds or flu rose from 0.9% of the total to 1.2%.
However, reports of increased numbers of people with the virus in Scotland or Wales have not occurred. There have been increased reports in Northern Ireland, although the numbers remain "low".
The HPA said the numbers had risen above the "threshold" where they inform doctors to issue prescriptions for oseltamivir and zanamivir (anti-viral medication) for people in the at-risk group, such as the the elderly.
Dr Richard Pebody, a flu expert from the Health Protection Agency, said: "For most people, flu is miserable, lasting a week or so, but not life threatening."
"For those in at-risk groups, however, such as the elderly and patients with heart problems, diabetes or lung, liver or renal diseases, or those who have weak immune systems, it can be far more dangerous and can lead to more serious illnesses."
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Title: Flu cases rise in England
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 9575
Date Added: 15th Dec 2008