France ‘pre-epidemic’ for ‘flu as ‘gastro’ spreads

Four regions in France are in a “pre-epidemic” state for ‘flu, health authority Santé Publique France has warned, while digestive condition gastroenteritis has been confirmed in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine.

29 December 2019
By Connexion journalist

Ile-de-France, Occitanie, Pays de la Loire and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur have seen a spike in people reporting ‘flu, either via admission to hospital or GP consultations.

There were 1,787 hospital reports of “flu or flu-like syndrome”, 160 hospitalisations connected with the illness, and 11 serious cases reported, in the past week, records show. This represents a significant rise compared to the week before which saw 1,219 reports and 95 hospitalisations.

Home healthcare visitors reported 51 calls per 100,000 residents, in connection to “flu-like problems”, with a “slight increase” in consultations made by house call emergency service SOS Médecins, it said. These calls represented 3.5% of their visits this week, up from 2.8% the week before.

As it declares a state of “pre-epidemic”, Santé Publique France has warned: “Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself against ‘flu and its complications”.

People are advised to get the vaccination as soon as possible, as the effect is not immediate; you are only protected from ‘flu around 15 days after the jab.


“Gastro” spreading

‘Flu is not the only concern; cases of gastroenteritis have spiked in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, with national GP network Sentinelles placing the region on “red alert” for the virus last week. Data from doctors suggest that there were 225 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

(Map: Réseau Sentinelles / France 3)

The main symptom of “gastro” is severe diarrhea, sometimes with nausea and vomiting, that lasts 24-72 hours. The condition is extremely contagious, and can be dangerous for elderly people and those with weakened immune systems.

Normally, gastro requires rest and no doctor treatment, but people are advised to drink at least two litres of water per day to avoid dehydration. This may include mineral water, water with added sugar, tea infusions, or even thin vegetable soup.

Some foods may make you feel worse (such as fruit or raw vegetables) but others may help calm your stomach (such as cooked vegetables, or plain rice or pasta). Patients may also take anti-diarrhea medicine if they wish.

The public is advised to seek medical care if the condition gets worse suddenly, if the symptoms are still very bad after two days; if the ill person is two years old or younger, or aged over 75; if there are signs of severe dehydration; or if there is blood or mucus in the faeces.

Santé Publique France also issued reminders of how to avoid spreading viruses.

These include: 

  • Covering your face or nose when you sneeze or cough
  • Avoid touching your mouth or nose
  • Coughing or sneezing into your elbow rather than on to your hand
  • Using disposable tissues to throw away your germs
  • Washing hands regularly and always after vomiting, using the bathroom, coughing, or sneezing

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