NHS Western Isles today (Monday) advised that laboratory tests have confirmed the presence of Influenza A.
Since the start of the flu season, three individuals in the Western Isles have required hospital treatment as a result of flu. Community surveillance swabs would indicate, as with the rest of Scotland, H1N1 (swine flu) to be the predominant strain this year.
The H1N1 virus is one of the winter flu strains that circulate every winter, which causes the same types of symptoms and illness as other strains of flu. Again, for the most part seasonal flu (including H1N1) remains a self-limiting illness usually followed by a full recovery, which can easily be managed at home with rest, plenty of fluids and simple analgesia. This remains the advice.
However, complications can occur so we do advise anyone in the ‘at risk’ groups (see below) developing flu-like symptoms and anyone who is concerned about their symptoms particularly any breathing difficulties to contact NHS 24 on 08454 242424 or their GP for advice.
While late in the season it is not unusual to have seasonal flu around at this time of year. GP Practices are not reporting any greater number of cases than in previous flu seasons and for most this is a self-limiting episode that is easily managed at home.
There have recently been a very small number of cases where individuals presenting with flu-like symptoms have become quickly and significantly more unwell than the vast majority of cases. This is why NHS Western Isles re-issued its seasonal flu advice.
Strains of flu circulating this season include Influenza A H3N2, Influenza A H1N1 (which is now considered seasonal flu) and Influenza B. These strains were included in the 2013-14 seasonal flu vaccination which was offered free in Scotland to those aged 65 and over, pregnant women and those in ‘at risk’ groups.
We would like to highlight that immunisation is still available from GP Practices for those eligible in the ‘at risk’ groups, those aged over 65 and pregnant women.
At risks groups for flu include:
Chronic respiratory disease, e.g. asthma needing regular inhaled or oral steroids; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Chronic heart conditions
Chronic kidney or liver disease
Chronic neurological conditions, e.g. stroke or multiple sclerosis
Lowered immunity due to disease or treatment, e.g. chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment for cancer or long-term steroid use
The spread of flu can be limited by
Staying at home while you are infectious
Frequent hand washing with soap and water or use of alcohol gels
Regular wiping down and cleaning surfaces
Using tissues to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
Putting used tissues in a bin as soon as possible