Expatica news

The flu has arrived

15 February 2007
BRUSSELS – It is official: an epidemic of influenza and respiratory infections is raging throughout Belgium. This is evident from figures from the Scientific Institute of Public Health (WIV). At this moment about 6 percent of doctors’ consultations involve the flu, which classifies the situation as an epidemic.

The virus is being caused by a different strain than the one last year. “This year we are dealing with the AH3 virus, a dangerous variant, which could cause more complications and more deaths,” says Fernande Yane of the WIV.

The flu epidemic came later than usual this year, presumably because the warm weather lasted so long. The number of flu cases has risen sharply and will probably drop quickly as well, but all in all the epidemic is expected to last another six weeks.

It is too late for vaccination. Antiviral medicines can reduce the duration and seriousness of the sickness, and decrease the chance of passing on the virus to others. But these antiviral medicines must be taken within 48 hours of noticing the first symptoms.

Antibiotics do not help against a viral infection like the flu.

Every year some 1,500 Belgians die of flu, mainly elderly people and those with a weak immune system are in danger of serious complications.

[Copyright Expatica 2007]

Subject: Belgian news