Flu season had fewest infections


Last winter's flu season saw the lowest number of patients infected with the virus, health experts said.

GP consultation rates for flu-like illness in England and Wales show that the 2011/12 flu season was the lowest on record, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) said.

During the 2010/11 flu season there were 130 cases per 100,000 but last winter they were 30 per 100,000, the HPA said.

Despite the decreased incidence, 20 people died in intensive care units after being confirmed with the flu.

Dr Richard Pebody, head of the HPA's influenza surveillance section, said: “This year's low and late flu season comes straight after one of the most intense flu seasons we've seen in recent years.

“Despite the low level of activity overall, a significant numbers of influenza outbreaks in elderly care home settings were reported this year. So one of the key take-home messages is that nothing is predictable about flu, aside from the fact that it will circulate every year.

“Although we had low overall levels of flu seen last winter we must continue to reinforce the message that flu is a serious illness in people at risk of complications, and vaccination ahead of the flu season is the best way to minimise the risk of serious illness or death.”