Number of flu cases on the rise at end of 2018

From year to year, many victims of the flu in Estonia were unvaccinated at the time of their death.
From year to year, many victims of the flu in Estonia were unvaccinated at the time of their death. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

During the final week of 2018, a total of 2,524 patients with viral upper respiratory infections sought medical attention, 47.5% of whom were children. A total of 210 cases of influenza were laboratory confirmed, nearly twice as many as during the week before, according to Health Board data.

Over the past two weeks, the number of flu cases has quadrupled. The majority of these cases were laboratory confirmed at emergency medical departments, from which patients were released as their condition did not require hospitalisation.

While the intensity of the current flu season is low as of yet, the number of cases is nonetheless starting to pick up.

Influenza type A is currently the number one culprit behind new flu cases, accounting for 62% of all confirmed cases.

44% of laboratory-confirmed flu cases were registered in patients 15 years of age and younger, 35.7% in working-age patients between the ages of 20-64, and one in five in older patients.

The number of new cases has increased the most among children, which is typical of the beginning of a new flu season; as a rule, children are the first to catch the flu, and experience a milder form thereof. Cases in which older patients contract the flu often involve having cared for or spent time in the presence of a child with the flu. Older patients most frequently require hospitalisation as a result as well.

Last week, 210 cases of influenza type A were diagnosed. According to Health and Welfare Information Systems Centre (TEHIK) data, since the beginning of the current flu season, a total of 128 patients have required hopsitalisation, nearly 80% of whom have been children.

According to Health Board data, five patients between the ages of 34-64 have required intensive care, all of whom belonged to risk groups.

The Health Board stressed that influenza is a serious illness in any case, but especially at risk are small children, pregnant women, those with chronic illnesses, and the elderly.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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