We're in the middle of a flu epidemic
24 February 2006, BRUSSELS — The number of bronchial infections in Belgium has reached epidemic proportions in the past week, the Scientific Institute for Public Health said.
24 February 2006
BRUSSELS — The number of bronchial infections in Belgium has reached epidemic proportions in the past week, the Scientific Institute for Public Health said.
However, the institute also said Belgium is facing an epidemic of the B-type influenza strain considered to be a mild variant of the virus.
The number of people who visited a doctor for flu-like symptoms rose sharply this week, newspaper 'Het Nieuwsblad' reported on Friday.
Some 20 percent of consultations at a doctor's surgery last week were related to cases of flu or bronchial infections, but this rose to 25 percent this week.
It means Belgium is officially in the grip of flu epidemic. It also means the peak of the flu season has arrived somewhat late.
Flu epidemics also occurred late in the winters of 2002-03 and 2004-05, in what were considered "weak" flu years. The most recent severe flu epidemic dates back to 2003-04 when an epidemic was recorded in December.
Virologists think the epidemic will be of a restricted nature this year. Almost four out of every five cases of flu confirmed by the National Influenza Centre is an infection of the B-type strain, which gives "milder" flu symptoms.
The B-type has also appeared elsewhere in Europe this year. Besides Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Norway and parts of the UK are currently reporting a high number of infections.
The fact that this winter is again a week flu year appears to confirm indications that the A-type strain of the virus is weakening, a process which can be traced back to 1968.
However, this is not only good news because if the flu virus weakens, there is room for new viruses to emerge, against which humans have poorer immunity.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news