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Friday 28th October 2016

Winter flu season lowest on record

22nd June 2012

The Health Protection Agency says rates of flu in 2011/2012 were the lowest on record.

flu virus testing

It has reported that overall GP consultation rates for influenza-like illness in England and Wales, published in its annual flu report, were the lowest since 1966, when the Royal College of GP Influenza like Illness surveillance scheme was established.

GP consultation rates are one of several surveillance systems used by the HPA to measure each flu season and this year they did not cross the baseline threshold of 30 cases per 100,000, compared to the peak of 130 cases per 100,000 in the 2010/11 season.

Dr Richard Pebody, head of the HPA’s influenza surveillance section, said: “This year’s low and late flu season comes straight after one of the most intense flu seasons we’ve seen in recent years.

"Despite the low level of activity overall, a significant numbers of influenza outbreaks in elderly care home settings were reported this year. So one of the key the take home messages is that nothing is predictable about flu, aside from the fact that it will circulate every year.

“Although we had low overall levels of flu seen last winter we must continue to reinforce the message that flu is a serious illness in people at risk of complications and vaccination ahead of the flu season is the best way to minimise the risk of serious illness or death.”

The HPA says that after two years dominated by the pandemic flu strain (H1N1pdm(09)), or swine flu, the 2011/12 season’s dominant virus was influenza A H3N2.


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