This site is intended for health professionals only

Flu cases slowing after 338 deaths

The number of deaths in the UK since September linked to flu totals 338, figures from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) have revealed.

The figure is up from the 254 reported last week, but new levels of the illness are dropping, the HPA said.

The data show that of the 297 cases where information was available, the majority (92%, or 273 deaths) were associated with swine flu; and of the 306 cases related to age, 10 were under five, 14 were aged five to 14, 217 were aged 15 to 64, and 65 were 65 or over.

About 75% of the people who died were in an at-risk category or were aged 65 or over. At-risk patients are defined as those with an underlying health problem, such as heart disease of diabetes. A similar proportion had not had the seasonal flu vaccination.

The number of patients consulting with doctors in England for flu or suspected flu has also declined in the past week - from 66.5 per 100,000 to 40.7 per 100,000.

On December 30, the peak was 124.4 per 100,000.

Professor John Watson, head of the respiratory diseases department at the HPA, said: "Our latest flu report suggests levels of flu are continuing to decline across the UK and we appear to be over the peak of activity.

"However, flu is still circulating and it is important that people remember to practise good cough and hand hygiene, such as covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough and sneeze, and then disposing of these as soon as possible to stop it spreading in the community."

Copyright © Press Association 2011