Outbreak of flu

Visiting restrictions in place at Nenagh Hospital

Anne O'Grady

Reporter:

Anne O'Grady

Visiting restrictions in place at Nenagh Hospital

Visiting restrictions are in place at Nenagh Hospital following an outbreak of seasonal influenza.

As of 3pm on Monday, January 9th, there were seven confirmed cases of seasonal influenza in the hospital with six further patients who are symptomatic and pending confirmation.

The Health Protection and Surveillance Centre has urged people in high-risk groups (see below) to get vaccinated against flu as the number of reported cases of influenza-like illness (ILI) in Ireland continues to increase.

UL Hospitals Group has asked that members of the public respect the current restrictions on visiting at Nenagh Hospital. Visiting is restricted to one person per patient during visiting hours only (2pm to 4pm and 6pm to 9pm).

People with flu symptoms (see below), those feeling generally unwell and the under-16s are urged to stay away from the hospital at this time.

We regret any inconvenience caused by the restrictions, which are being implemented in the interests of patient care.

All infection control measures are in place and every effort is being made to manage and contain the spread of the virus.

Seasonal flu (also known as influenza) is a highly infectious illness caused by the flu virus.

The virus infects your lungs and upper airways, causing a sudden high temperature and general aches and pains.

You may also lose your appetite, feel nauseous and have a dry cough. You may need to stay in bed until your symptoms get better.

Symptoms can last for up to one week.

How it is spread:

The flu virus is spread in the small droplets of saliva coughed or sneezed into the air by an infected person. If you breathe in these droplets, you may become infected.

Flu can also spread if someone with the virus touches common surfaces such as a door handle with unwashed hands.

Typically several different strains of flu virus circulate at the same time. In 2010-11 one of the season's strains was H1N1, responsible for swine flu.

The infectious period:

Symptoms develop one to four days (two days on average) after being infected.

People with flu are usually infectious (can spread the virus) a day before symptoms start, and remain infectious for five or six days. Children and people with weaker immune systems (such as cancer patients) may remain infectious for slightly longer.

Try to avoid all unnecessary contact with others during this infectious period.

How common is it?

Seasonal flu is a very common illness that occurs every year, usually during the winter months (October to April in Ireland).

The number of people who consult their GP with flu-like symptoms varies from year to year, but is usually between 50 and 200 for every 100,000 people. This is in addition to the many people with flu who do not see their GP.

Outlook

Your symptoms will usually peak after two to three days. You should begin to feel much better within five to eight days.

However, elderly people or those with certain medical conditions may develop pneumonia. This can lead to serious illness and can be life-threatening.

Pregnant women are more likely to have complications if they become ill with the flu.

The seasonal flu vaccination is recommended for everyone aged 65 and older, pregnant women, anyone over 6 months who has a long-term illness, and health care staff and carers.

Yearly flu vaccination is the best way to protect against influenza.

People in high-risk groups are urged to get vaccinated against influenza

High-risk groups are:

• All those aged 65 years and older

• People including children with chronic illness requiring regular medical follow-up such as chronic lung disease, chronic heart disease, chronic neurological disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders and diabetes

• Those with lower immunity due to disease or treatment

• All pregnant women. The vaccine can be given safely at any stage of pregnancy

• Those with morbid obesity i.e. Body Mass Index ≥ 40

• Residents of nursing homes, old people's homes and other long stay facilities

• Health care workers and carer’s of those in risk groups.

People in ‘at risk’ groups can get the vaccine for free in pharmacies, GP clinics and occupation health departments as they are at much greater risk of becoming seriously unwell if they catch flu, and sadly many end up in hospital. 

Most people, unless they are in at risk group, can get better themselves at home.  Advice, tips, information and videos on getting over flu and other common illnesses are available at a new HSE website, www.undertheweather.ie.   The site was developed by the HSE along with GPs and pharmacists and is a great resource for people to get advice and get better