Expatica news

Flu epidemic looming

6 January 2005

BRUSSELS – Belgium could be on the verge of a flu epidemic, it was reported on Thursday.

According to the Scientific Institute for Public Health, the number of cases of flu and respiratory infections is on the rise and expected to get worse as children return to school after the holidays.

Youngsters will pass the bug to classmates and parents are expected to spread flu to colleagues at work.

The institute’s Dr Fernande Yane said Belgium could be on the brink of a flu epidemic as early as next week.

“We don’t yet know if this flu epidemic will be serious or if it will last a long time,” she said.

The flu has so far hit all age ranges and the whole of the country, but it has been particularly prevalent in Flanders, Brussels and Hainault.

The vast majority of patients are affected by the flu virus that causes some of the most serious symptoms, rather than milder forms.

Yane said around 21 percent of Belgians were vaccinated, a high percentage compared to the rest of Europe. “But that’s still well below our target of 40 percent of the population of Belgium,” she added.

Anyone getting the flu vaccination now has been warned it takes between 10 to 12 days to be effective and that it’s not 100 percent effective. However, experts say it can reduce the duration of the virus.

Those with the flu should stay at home, in order not to infect others, rest and drink plenty of liquids.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news