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Epidemic for flu and stomach bugs

GPs say winter flu virus is at epidemic levels, with 275,000 new cases in a week

THE WINTER flu virus and stomach bugs have reached epidemic levels in France in the past week, new GP figures reveal.

The research by the Sentinelles-Inserm network, which represents thousands of doctors around the country, found 275,000 new cases of flu reported nationwide last week.

To be considered an epidemic, the flu bug must affect at least 177 people in every 100,000. The figure currently stands at 438 per 100,000 and is expected to remain high for at least another week.

The worst-affected regions are mostly in the north: the Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Basse-Normandie, Ile-de-France, Brittany and Champagne-Ardenne.

French health watchdog Institut de Veille Sanitaire has renewed its advice to elderly people and anyone with a long-term health condition such as asthma or heart problems to get vaccinated.

The Assurance Maladie wrote to 12.5 million people before Christmas, inviting them to take the flu jab, which protects against seasonal flu as well as the H1N1 strain (swine flu or Grippe A).

Meanwhile, doctors reported 210,000 new cases of patients with gastro-enteritis last week, the equivalent of 334 cases per 100,000 inhabitants

Champagne-Ardenne, Haute-Normandie and the Languedoc-Roussillon regions are the most affected.

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