Home News ‘Flu epidemic and low January temperatures lead to increased death rate

‘Flu epidemic and low January temperatures lead to increased death rate

Published on 20/01/2019

Influenza in Portugal remains an epidemic but was said to be ‘stable’ in the second week of the year, with an incidence rate of 48.8 per 100,000 citizens.

Portugal and England have been the European countries with the highest percentage of cases since the beginning of the year. Data collected from ‘Flu News Europe, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control and the World Health Organisation, show moderate outbreaks in Ireland, the Netherlands, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

One of this year’s common ‘flu viruses (AH3) is aggressive, especially for the elderly. As a result, last Monday in Portugal, 14 people died of ‘flu and related problems, making this one of the deadliest days of the last decade.

The director general of health, commented that, “one of the viruses in circulation, AH3, is historically more aggressive, causing severe ‘flu with particular danger for the elderly.”

Graças Feitas, who highlighted the, “co-circulation with the more benign A(H1) pdm09 virus,” said this second strain is relatively good news, also that the vaccination rate had been higher this year than last.

The death rate has been high due also to the cold weather with an average minimum air temperature in the second week of January of 1.04°C, significantly lower than the average.

Between October and the end of last year, about 1.3 million older people had been vaccinated. In percentage terms, the influenza vaccine had been given to 66% of people over 65. This is 7% more than in the same period in 2017.

Even so, the very low temperatures during the first days of 2019 has led to an increase in the number of deaths with Monday 14th January having the most deaths since the ‘flu epidemic started: 482 died.