Number of flu cases is rising rapidly
Flu wave on the march: Especially south and east affected by influenza infections
According to experts, the flu could be significantly more severe this year than in the previous year. By early February, nearly 11,000 influenza infections had already been registered. Due to problems with the vaccine, vaccinated people could even become ill with influenza. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), however, there is no reason to panic. Although there is no one hundred percent protection against the influenza viruses, hygiene measures such as regular hand washing and can not cough, but can reduce the risk.
More flu cases than last year
A flu usually comes suddenly and unexpectedly. Patients feel flabby and sick from one moment to the next, with the feeling of sickness affecting the entire body. In addition, chills, high fever, body aches, headache, dry cough, swollen nasal mucosa and eye tears. Nausea and vomiting as well as diarrhea occur in some patients.
In the past few weeks many suffered from the complaints. Meanwhile, the virus infection has spread nationwide, with most cases reported in the east and south. By February 10, nearly 11,000 people in Germany were suffering from the flu. Only a week earlier, there were still 6,400 flu patients. „Heavily increased influenza activity“, is called in the current weekly report of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Influenza (AGI) of the RKI.
„Overall, the flu epidemic started a little earlier than last season, already in the second calendar week“, reports AGI director Silke Buda to the news agency „dpa“. Whether we are actually facing a very severe flu epidemic, but is not foreseeable. „We do not speculate, "says Susanne Glasmacher of the RKI to the agency. „Just how long and heavy a flu epidemic is can not be predicted. "Currently, it is only certain that seasonal influenza is more severe than last year, as evidenced by the number of cases: During 2014 in the 12th calendar week at the height of the flu epidemic only 702 flu Cases were registered this year in the 6th calendar week already more than 4,500.
Influenza vaccine may be too weak
Research by the RKI has shown that the influenza A subtype H3N2 is currently the most widespread. While the influenza vaccine contains a component against H3N2, it may not be sufficiently effective. The reason for this is the change in the virus strain since the WHO recommendation for the vaccine composition in the spring of 2014, because the protein contained in the vaccine no longer corresponds to the surface protein of the virus. „Here must be expected with a possibly reduced vaccine effect“, explains Buda. This had also shown numbers from the US, Canada and the UK. The WHO also pointed out in January that differences exist between the vaccine and the pathogen. Nevertheless, vaccination is the only effective way of preventing influenza. „Because against the other subtypes he works yes“, so Buda.
Influenza vaccine is controversial
Whether a flu vaccine makes sense or not, is controversial. While some blame drug makers for money, others stress the importance of the flu vaccine. The Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) of the RKI issues a vaccination recommendation on this topic, which however only affects certain groups of people. According to them, elderly people, people with basic illnesses such as diabetes or asthma, pregnant women, medical staff and caregivers of high-risk patients should be vaccinated against influenza. Whether young and healthy people should be vaccinated, everyone must decide for themselves. Although the risk of vaccination complications is low, in very rare cases vaccination can even have life-threatening consequences. Likewise, however, a flu can take such a heavy course that the patient dies in the worst case.
About 30 percent of the population use a flu vaccine. According to Buda, about half of the elderly and only one quarter of the pregnant women are vaccinated, although both are at risk. „The previous vaccination rate is still unsatisfactory“, so the expert. (Ag)
Image: Sebastian Karkus