Flu caused 726 excess deaths among over-65s last winter

Health Protection Surveillance Centre’s report shows fall in cases of measles and tuberculosis, but incrase in mumps and HIV

 Flu activity this winter has been low,  with  33 people  hospitalised  up to Christmas, and one confirmed death. However, flu cases have increased in the New Year. Photograph: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

Flu activity this winter has been low, with 33 people hospitalised up to Christmas, and one confirmed death. However, flu cases have increased in the New Year. Photograph: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

 

A flu outbreak largely accounted for over 700 excess deaths among older people last winter, according to a new report.

The estimated number of excess deaths among over-65s was 726 during the 2014/2015 season, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre’s report on infectious diseases states.

“It is likely that influenza contributed significantly to these excess deaths, although adverse winter conditions and other respiratory infections may have also contributed.”

Flu activity this winter has been low, but has increased in the New Year. Figures show 33 people were hospitalised with flu up to Christmas, and three cases were admitted to critical care. There was one confirmed death from influenza B.

Since then, the HSE says many hospitals are reporting increased attendances of adults and children presenting with flu-like/respiratory illness, and similar trends have been noted by GPs.

The HPSC report shows improvements in many areas of infectious disease control. For the eighth consecutive year, antibiotic-resistant MRSA infections declined and there was a small improvement in C diff infections.

There were 33 reported cases of measles, the lowest number since reporting began in 1948.

The incidence of tuberculosis fell again.

However, another drug-resistant superbug, K pneumonia, is causing concern and a national taskforce has been established to strengthen infection controls.

Despite 93 per cent coverage of children with the MMR vaccine, there were over 740 cases of mumps last year, with the highest incidence among 15-24 year olds.

The number of HIV cases grew 11 per cent last year.