In the first week of this year's flu season (September 28-October 4), 4,360 viral upper respiratory tract infection cases were registered in Estonia, the Health Board (Terviseamet) said on Thursday.
However, none of the diagnostic laboratory tests which were carried out to check for influenza were found to be positive.
The cases were connected to other viruses which cause viral respiratory infections, with the rhinovirus currently prevalent. Rhinoviruses are characterised by sneezing, a head cold, and sometimes throat pain. Children may also experience a cough and fever.
The number of cases is not particularly high, but the figure is still 20 percent up on the same period in previous years. The increase in the number of cases may arise from the fact that people are seeking medical assistance more readily this year due to the spread of SARS-CoV-2. There are no significant differences between the spread of the cases in different counties.
Olga Sadikova, senior specialist at the Health Board's influence center, said now is a good time to be vaccinated against influenza, as influenza viruses are not yet circulating in Estonia and therefore the person's body will have more time to adjust its defences against the virus.
"Elderly people and anyone suffering from chronic diseases should especially consider getting vaccinated," Sadikova said.
Even though influenza, which is known to be a serious infectious disease, may sometimes only manifest itself in the form of a low-grade fever and can pass without any significant symptoms, an individual who chooses to overcome influenza "on their feet" may spread the virus to members of risk groups who may end up in a life-threatening situation as a result of falling ill.
Such individuals may also damage their own health, as overcoming the virus on your feet is accompanied by a higher risk of serious complications.
The Health Board emphasizes that if a person exhibits even mild symptoms, they should avoid crowded places and stay at least 1.5 meters away from healthy people. Hygiene is also important, i.e. using a tissue or sleeve to cover sneezes or coughing fits. The board also notes that a person should stay home if they have fallen ill.
The European Influenza Surveillance Network has said the intensity of the spread of influenza in the European Union is low.
Last year, a total of 4,388 influenza cases were diagnosed by laboratory testing or based on epidemiological connections in Estonia and 582 patients required hospitalisation due to influenza.
Based on data from six hospitals, 21 individuals required intensive care due to the virus in the 2019/2020 season, of whom twelve died. The ages of those individuals who died as a result of influenza ranged from nine months to eighty-five years. All of the individuals who died were members of risk groups.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste