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Flu claimed 33 lives before epidemic peaked

A flu shot being administered. Photo is illustrative.
A flu shot being administered. Photo is illustrative. Source: (AFP/Scanpix)

This season's influenza epidemic has taken 33 lives in Estonia, however the number of cases of illness has continued to drop in recent weeks, the Health Board reported.

According to data complied from ten hospitals across the country, 33 people have died due to the flu this season, 29 of whom were over 65 years of age.

Seven people were transferred to hospital intensive care units (ICUs) from care homes, five of whom later died. All patients whose lives were claimed by the illness had belonged to risk groups; none were vaccinated against the flu. Primary risk factors included advanced age and chronic illness.

The number of cases of the flu and other upper respiratory infections has continued to drop over the past three weeks, with the number of cases falling by 25 percent last week. Over the course of one week, nearly 4,000 patients sought medical care for upper respiratory infections, nearly 46 percent of whom were children.

According to data from the Estonian eHealth Foundation, a total of 1,187 patients have required hospitalization due to the flu this season, 69 percent of whom were adults or elderly. 90 individuals have required intensive care, two of whom were under four years of age, one of whom was school-aged, 18 of whom were 18-64 years of age and 68 of whom were 65 years of age or older, representing just over 75 percent of such patients.

This year's most widespread strain of the flu, A(H3N2), has led to severe illness primarily among elderly patients. The number of patients requiring hospitalization remains on the rise, however not at the same clip as previously.

The Health Board recommends anyone over 65 years of age to contact their doctor as soon as possible if they experience a rapidly increasing fever accompanied by weakness, cough, cold and muscle and joint pain.

Anyone sick with the flu should remain at home, and anyone showing symptoms of the flu should avoid contact with elderly friends and family members.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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