Flu outbreak blamed for 55 deaths this winter

Infection rate declining after nine weeks of elevated activity, according to HSE update

This winter’s flu outbreak has caused 55 deaths, most of them among the elderly, according to the latest update from the HSE.

However, flu levels continue to drop and have almost reached the baseline level after nine weeks of elevated virus activity.

Rates are expected to continue to decline in the coming weeks, thereby easing the pressure on hospital emergency departments.

Last week, the rate of influenza-like illnesses decreased to 25.3 per 100,000 compared with 26.9 the previous week. The baseline rate is 18.3.

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With the A(H3N2) strain predominating this winter, those aged 65 years and older are the most affected.

The HSE reports 1,162 hospitalisations, 38 intensive care cases and 98 respiratory or influenza outbreaks. The vast majority of outbreaks were in nursing homes and community hospitals.

This year’s flu vaccine is considered a good fit for the predominant A(H3N2) strain circulating , with 71 per cent of specimens tested matching the vaccine.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times