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Winter bugs like flu and norovirus must be taken seriously, warns NHS

NHS staff continue to pull out all the stops with flu and norovirus continuing to circulate as expected in January

Flu and norovirus major contributing factor to pressure on NHS during winter

Warning to heed norovirus advice and get the free flu jab if eligible

With the second half of January bringing with it Lancashire and South Cumbria’s first real cold snap of the winter season, the NHS has warned of the impact of circulating winter bugs like norovirus and the flu.

Certain infections are more common during the winter, particularly influenza and norovirus. This is due to a combination of factors, but includes factors to do with the bugs themselves, and the fact that they may spread more easily when we spend more time together indoors. Influenza is responsible for a number of deaths each year and affects the same vulnerable groups as cold weather.

The statistics show that over the last week, seasonal flu continues to circulate across the UK, with early signs that activity is starting to peak.

With flu continuing to circulate in Lancashire and South Cumbria at medium intensity, at higher levels than in the South of the country, health bosses are advising there’s still time to get the flu vaccine and urging all those who are eligible to make sure they get it sooner rather than later. The vaccine is the best defence against flu, which while in most people is self-limiting, can be serious in groups with weakened immune systems.

Gareth Wallis, Deputy Medical Director for NHS England in Lancashire and South Cumbria said: “The early indications from Public Health England suggest that the strains of flu circulating are well matched to those in this season’s flu vaccines, so if you know anyone who may be at risk from flu encourage them to get protected.

“NHS staff continue to pull out all the stops with flu and norovirus cases continuing to rise as expected in January, although thanks to closer working between hospitals, local health groups and councils, fewer people are spending long periods in hospital compared with this time last year.

“With temperatures set to stay low, it’s more important than ever that people help doctors, nurses, paramedics and other frontline staff provide care to the most seriously ill, by getting the free flu jab if you’re eligible, and by using the NHS 111 service as the first port of call for non-emergencies.”

For more health advice this winter, please visit www.nhs.uk/staywell

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