This winter's influenza outbreak is now taking hold locally, with GP consultation rates in East Sussex for flu-like illnesses rocketing by almost 143% in just one week.
Thousands of local people could see their holiday plans turn to misery if flu levels rise as expected in late December and early January.
The local NHS is now urging people to get their flu jab and highlighting home treatment advice due to the increased risk of flu while the country celebrates Christmas, Hanukkah and the New Year.
The advice comes after flu cases rose by 143% within the space of a week in East Sussex, from around 3.9 cases per 100,000 to 10.3.
Flu symptoms come on very quickly and can be a very unpleasant illness with symptoms including fever, stuffy nose dry cough, sore throat, aching muscles and joints and extreme tiredness, which can often last several days.
Flu can't be treated with antibiotics - it is caused by viruses and antibiotics only work against bacteria, not viruses. Those who do get the flu will get better more quickly if they:
- Get plenty of rest and sleep
- Make sure they keep warm
- Take paracetamol or ibuprofen
- Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration
A pharmacist can also help with flu, offering treatment advice and recommend flu remedies, and give guidance on giving medicines to children. You don’t need as appointment to see a local pharmacist and most have private consultation areas, and will say if you need further medical attention.
Katy Jackson, Director of Urgent Care and Systems Resilience for Sussex Health and Care Partnership, said: “We are now seeing this winter’s flu season take hold in Sussex and we advising those who already have flu-like symptoms to rest, drink plenty of water and take paracetamol where needed.
“Whether it’s missing out on your Christmas dinner, the Boxing Day match or a New Year’s party, nobody wants to be laid low by flu while the festivities are in full swing. The best form of protection against flu for those who have not yet got it is to get the vaccine - it still isn’t too late to get the flu vaccine, to protect yourself and vulnerable people around you.”
Flu vaccines are available for free for those in at risk groups which include:
- All children aged two to ten (but not eleven years or older) on 31 August 2019, this covers nurseries, Reception through school years 1-6
- Those aged six months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups
- Pregnant women
- Those aged 65 years and over
- Those in long-stay residential care homes
- Close contacts of immunocompromised individuals