Flu season starts early

A large outbreak of flu is expected sooner than usual

Flu season is expected to start early this year, and a large number of cases are already filling doctors' offices. More cases are expected. People at risk such as the elderly still have time to get a influenza shot but need to do so quickly as the shot takes time to become effective, according to doctors.

Doctors have been reporting large numbers of colds and people with dry throats and intestinal problems, but also an alarming number of early cases of influenza. Health officials say the situation with the flu is currently on the brink of an epidemic in the Czech Republic. The number of patients is between 1,600 to 1,800 per 100,000 people. In Prague it is close to 20,000 patients.

Patients have exhibited classic flu symptoms such as fever, headache, joint pain and overall fatigue. Doctors advise people not to underestimate the warning signs.

The regional hygiene station in Prague, which maps the flu, said that before the holidays the number of people with medical emergencies was up 80 percent, and last week was up another 30 percent. This should further increase due to children returning to school and adults returning to work after the holidays. Both situations put people into close contact where viruses can be contracted. Experts cannot predict the number of cases, but say they expect a rise until the end of January.

The flu season usually starts later, at the end of January and start of February. The early start this year is attributed to the erratic weather, which tends to weaken peoples' immune systems. Health stations outside of Prague have been recording higher rates of infection, but experts say Praguers are not healthier, just that they are less likely to seek treatment for the flu than their rural and regional counterparts.

Most patients are currently being treated at home, and hospitals do not report a surge of cases requiring in-hospital care. Aside from one death before the holidays, there have been no other serious cases with complications. Prague hospitals confirm that they have seen suspected and confirmed cases, but currently have nobody in isolation wards.

Related articles: 
The flu season is just around the corner! - Prague.TV, 27.10.2015
Czech remedies for an early cold season - Prague.TV, 25.10.2015

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