Severe flu wave expected in winter

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Germany expects a rapid increase in flu infections in winter: experts advise vaccination

The experts of the German Association for Combating Viral Diseases expect a relatively strong wave of flu in the coming winter. Because in Australia - where the annual flu season is slowly coming to an end - the authorities reported an earlier and faster increase in flu infections this year than in 2010 and 2011.

The data from the southern hemisphere make it clear that winter will probably be accompanied by a more severe flu episode in our latitudes as well, explains Peter Wutzler, President of the German Association for Combating Viral Diseases, at the University Hospital Jena, to the news agency "dpa". In Australia, the current flu season has seen a particularly large number of children up to four years of age and seniors over 70 years of age, the Australian Ministry of Health reports. The experts expect a similar development for winter in Germany as well. Therefore, flu vaccinations are already being called again.

Infection numbers in Australia indicate a strong wave of flu The president of the German Association for the Fight against Virus Diseases reports that, according to the Australian authorities, at the start of this year's flu season in Australia around twice as many cases of influenza were registered as in the same period last year. Recently, three children under the age of six died from the effects of the flu infection. Vaccination is therefore particularly recommended for older people and the chronically ill. It is best to have a vaccination from September to November, since the immune system needs around two weeks after the vaccination to build up effective flu protection, explained Wutzler. "In order to be optimally protected, you should now make an appointment for your vaccination with your family doctor," says the expert. According to the Paul Ehrlich Institute responsible for the approval of the vaccines, 8.3 million vaccine doses have already been released for the 2012/2013 flu season. In some cases, the manufacturers had already started shipping.

Rapid rise in the number of infections at the beginning of the flu season According to the Australian Ministry of Health, the H3N2 pathogen was responsible for a particularly large number of diseases in Australia this flu season. Compared to previous years, infections with the swine flu virus H1N1 occurred comparatively rarely. At the beginning of the flu season, the authorities observed an unusually strong increase in the number of illnesses, but at the same time they point out that the number of infections over the entire flu season was hardly higher than in the flu waves of previous years. Influenza-related hospital deliveries peaked in mid-July and have declined significantly since then. The need for vaccination, given a closer look at the numbers, therefore appears to be no more or less necessary than in previous years. (fp)

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