Flu figures 'lowest on record'

25 June 2012 11:04

Encouragin people to wash their hands helped keep cases of flu to their lowest on record during last winter.

Encouragin people to wash their hands helped keep cases of flu to their lowest on record during last winter.

The number of people in England and Wales suffering from flu was the lowest on record last winter, experts say.

Figures from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) say the rates of influenza-like complaints in GP consultations were just 30 per 100,000, well down on the figure of 130 in the 2010/11 winter.

That winter was deemed "one of the most intense flu seasons we've seen in recent years," according to Dr Richard Pebody, head of the HPA's influenza surveillance section, but despite the more recent fall in flu cases, holiday-makers would be wise to make sure they have good medical travel insurance cover just in case.

Although instances of flu were lower, 20 people with the virus died while in intensive care and "significant numbers" of cases were reported in care homes for the elderly.

"One of the key take-home messages is that nothing is predictable about flu, aside from the fact that it will circulate every year," Dr Pebody said. He stressed that it is important to make people aware that flu is still a serious illness, especially for those likely to suffer complications and that vaccination remains the best method for patients to lower the risk.

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