Since October last year until the 27th of January this year, the flu had already caused 39 deaths of people in elderly age (8 out of 10 were not vaccinated), while 191 had ended up in intensive care. Four of them were pregnant women, but most of the serious cases were men. In Italy the worst weeks of this seasonal illness have just passed, with the most number of cases recorded in the sixth week of the year, 785 sentinel doctors reported the frequency of the flu syndromes among their patients. The value of the total incidence was 11.99 cases per thousand patients. In the age group between 0 and 4 years, the percentage was 37.11 cases per thousand patients, in the age group between 5 and 14 years 18.53 in the age group between 15 and 64 years 10.95 and between individuals at the age of 65 years and over 4.19 cases per thousand patients.
At the end of January, 725,000 Italians were affected by the flu, with the number of cases in the season reaching 3.6 million. The total cases of the 2018/2019 season have risen to 5 million at their peak.
We talked about it with Dr. Michele Lagioia, Head of the Medical and Health Directorate of Humanitas.
A high rate of critical cases
As Dr Lagioia explained, “Contrary to what was observed until the end of 2018, the seasonal flu epidemic became unexpectedly severe: both in number of people affected and in complications and mortality. It is not difficult to predict an epidemiological curve that will be positioned between the last year and the 2004-05 season, with a return to under 4 affected subjects per 1000 that will reach between the 12th and 14th week of the year. We are observing a high rate of serious cases, and a very high mortality (18%). As a result, the entire Regional Health System is under enormous stress, especially the emergency room. It increases the inflow, increases the rate of hospitalization as well as the impact on intensive areas”.
The flu symptoms and the 4 viral strains
High fever, pain, respiratory problems. The most affected by the flu are the children under the age of 5. The virus, which circulates this year in 4 different strains, can be transmitted easily, especially in crowded environments such as schools or large offices. At the moment, only strain A viruses are apparently widespread as they are responsible for most of the cases that have been concentrated in Italy, especially in Umbria, Marche, Abruzzo, Calabria and the province of Trento.
The flu is a disease that is erroneously considered trivial, for which it is very important to use vaccination prophylaxis, both to ensure better protection for themselves, in order to protect the weakest from infection, which may even be fatal or lead to serious complications. This year, as the experts warn, the convalescence is also particularly critical, with a particularly severe asthenia, the lack of appetite and a general difficulty in fully recovering.