Flu rates overall on the decrease – but not every where, latest RCGP figures show

Latest RCGP figures show that flu rates are decreasing – but that there is disparity in the ‘where’

Flu rates have decreased overall across England for the first time this year, but rates in some areas of the country still continue to increase, according to the latest figures from the Royal College of GPs’ Research and Surveillance Centre.

Rates of Influenza-Like Illness (ILI) in general practice across England decreased slightly from 54.1 per 100,000 population last week to 52.1 per 100,000 population between January 22 – 28, 2018.

Broken down by region, presentations of ILI:

  • in the London region increased slightly from 44.9 to 46.9 per 100,000 population;
  • in the North region decreased from 54.9 to 48.8 per 100,000 population;
  • in the South region decreased from 59.6 to 55.1 per 100,000 population;
  • in the Midlands and East region increased from 53.6 to 59.3 per 100,000 population.

Nationally, presentations of Common Cold and Respiratory System Diseases in general practice remained largely unchanged. Presentations of Asthma decreased from 20.8 per 100,000 population to 15.0 per 100,000 population, and Acute Bronchitis decreased from 111.3 per 100,000 population to 105.5 per 100,000 population.

Commenting on the latest figures, Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Vice Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “We have seen a decrease in the overall number of flu presentations in general practice across England which is good news, but it is only slight, and, in fact, London and the Midland and East regions have seen increases in the past week.

“General practice is still under considerable pressure as we deal with these flu presentations in our surgeries and this latest data shows we’re still not out of winter pressures yet as the influenza virus can be very unpredictable.

“Patients who have the flu should get plenty of rest, keep warm and drink lots of fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated and if you’re sick, it is best to stay at home rather than soldiering on as you risk getting worse and passing the flu on to others.

“We’re also reminding patients of our ‘3 before GP’ advice which asks patients whether self-care is an option in the first instance; whether advice from a reputable online UK source, such as NHS Choices, could help; or whether they could seek advice from a pharmacist, before booking an appointment with their GP.”

Professor Simon de Lusignan, Medical Director for the RCGP’s Research and Surveillance Centre, said: “Today’s figures show that rates of ILI presentations in general practice have flattened off, but Influenza B – the predominant strain – is still circulating, and we need to remain cautious about rates increasing again over the coming weeks.”

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