Latest figures from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) up to 6 January 2013 show that flu activity remain at similar levels to those reported in 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 have decreased slightly from 32.7 per 100,000 in week 52 ending on 30 December to 29.2 on week 1 ending 6 January 2013. Meanwhile, 2.0% of the calls received by NHS Direct concerned influenza compared to 2.1% in week 52.
In week 1 (ending 6 January 2013), the weekly primary care ILI consultation rate decreased in England (29.2 per 100,000) and increased in Wales (33.0 per 100,000), Scotland (46.3 per 100,000) and Northern Ireland (87.0 per 100,000).
Dr Richard Pebody, head of seasonal flu surveillance at the HPA said:
“The flu activity has remained similar to last week across several of our indicators in line with the trend we expect to see at this time of year.
“However, the latest data should be interpreted with caution due to GP practices being closed on the bank holidays which may have impacted on GP consultation rates.
“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 symptoms include the sudden onset of fever, a cough with a sore throat, and aching muscles and joints. If you are otherwise healthy and are suffering from flu, you should stay at home, rest, drink plenty of fluids and take pain relievers such as paracetamol. Children under 16 should not take any medication containing aspirin.