Flu outbreak

editorial image

NHS Western Isles are currently dealing with a number of cases of flu and have issued advice to the general public.

They state that 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.

They say 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, and than seen in previous years. This is why NHS Western Isles re-issued its seasonal flu advice.

Strains of flu circulating this season include Influenza A H3N2, 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 over 65yrs, pregnant women and those in ‘at risk’ groups.

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.

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

However, complications can occur so we do advise anyone in the ‘at risk’ groups 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.

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

· Diabetes

· 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

· Pregnant women

· Any other serious medical condition