Health chiefs have urged ‘at risk’ people in Wyre Forest to get a flu jab after the district was flagged up as a hotspot for all strains of flu.
Kidderminster is identified as a ‘high risk red’ zone on the latest flu map produced by Public Health England, meaning it is experiencing high numbers of cases.
The map is updated every three minutes and can show the spread of reported flu cases across the country.
The severity of some flu cases has also contributed to rising demand on emergency services at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.
A hospital spokesman said:” “We have seen a sharp increase in the number of patients in our emergency department with flu or flu-like symptons, which is adding to already significant pressures on our emergency services. We are asking for the public to help protect our patients and staff by cancelling routine appointments if they have flu, and also by not visiting friends or relatives in hospital. It’s also not too late to get the flu jab, which offers the best protection against flu.”
Dr Helen Carter, Director of Healthcare Public Health at PHE West Midlands, said: “As we would expect at this time of year, our data shows that more people are visiting GPs with flu symptoms and we are seeing more people admitted to hospitals with the flu.
“Symptoms of flu include sudden onset of fever, cough as well as sore throat, aching muscles and joints. The best advice is to rest, keep warm and drink plenty of water. We also recommend people take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower a high temperature and relieve aches if necessary.
“The vaccine is the best defence we have against the spread of flu and it isn’t too late to get vaccinated, especially those in risk groups including children and those aged 65 and over, pregnant women or those with a long-term medical condition.
“We advise people suffering with flu-like symptoms should catch coughs or sneezes in tissues and bin them immediately, wash their hands regularly with soap and warm water and frequently clean regularly used surfaces to stop the spread of flu. Avoid having unnecessary contact with other people if you or they have symptoms of flu.”
He added: “We will continue to actively monitor flu activity and we are working closely with NHS England to support their work putting measures in place to manage potential increases in local and national flu activity.”
Fears of an ‘Aussie flu’ epidemic have been reported this week but health experts are confident the current flu vaccines are the best defence against this strain of the virus.
“Flu AH3N2 is one of a mix of flu strains we are seeing. We see this in many flu seasons and it circulated last winter in the UK and then in Australia. The circulating strains of AH3N2 so far match those in the current flu vaccines.”
The flu jab is available to high risk groups from your GP and is also available at pharmacies across Worcestershire.
An advice leaflet is available here