Derry struck down with Norovirus and flu

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Derry is coming down with Norovirus and influenza this winter, a local GP has warned.

The local epidemic is spreading like wildfire through the population with many suffering the symptoms of both infections at the same time.

GP Tom Black told the ‘Journal’: “You only have to be around the town to see that almost everyone is sick at the minute. The number of people with Norovirus was last week 83% above what it normally would be, although it seems that it peaked around the week before Christmas as it is now down to 72% above average. On top of that there is influenza and many patients are getting both infections.

“It appears that the number of people with influenza hasn’t peaked yet, we’d expect that in the next two to three weeks,” he added.

Dr Black advised patients showing symptoms of the infections not to travel to their GP surgeries unless they believed they had contracted secondary infections such as tonsillitis, bronchiolitis or pneumonia. “By all means if patients are concerned, they should contact their GPs but in most cases the advice would be to stay at home, drink plenty of fluids and take paracetamol.”

Meanwhile, the most recent figures released by the Public Health Agency state that up to the end of week 52 of 2012, there were no registered deaths caused by influenza in Northern Ireland so far this winter. A spokesperson said that across Northern Ireland the number of people presenting with flu “remains well below the seasonal baseline threshold of 70 cases per 100,000 people”.

The spokesperson added: “Flu activity is currently significantly less than that seen two years ago when there was extensive flu activity over the holiday period.”

The PHA is reminding people who are eligible for the flu vaccine but haven’t yet had it, to get it as soon as possible.

“The vaccination programme has gone well so far this year, with a similar number of people vaccinated as this time last year – which had record levels of vaccine uptake. The PHA is urging all those in ‘at risk’ groups, including over 65s, pregnant women, children, and adults with some serious medical conditions, as well as youngsters attending schools for children with severe learning difficulties, to get their flu vaccine as soon as possible. Flu can cause serious illness and result in a stay in hospital, or even death for people in these categories. Even if you feel fit and healthy, if you fall into one of the at risk groups it is important that you remember to get the vaccine.”