The influenza epidemic of exceptional magnitude : the “gestures barriers” are set for back to school

Health 6 January, 2018


Published the 06.01.2018 at 18: 14


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According to a press release of the Ministry of Health, the epidemic of influenza is of exceptional magnitude, by the number of cases, which is likely to exceed those of the last two years. As well, only on the week of 25 to 31 December 2017, nearly 12 000 passages to the urgencies for influenza or influenza-like illness have been reported by public Health France, an increase of more than 80% compared to the previous week, of which more than 1 250 hospital admissions.

Not yet at the peak of the epidemic

In metropolitan France, the incidence of influenza-like illness seen in consultation of general medicine, is mounted to 527 cases per 100 000 population, 343, 000 new cases for the only week of the holidays. During the last 3 weeks of the flu epidemic, it is more than 700 000 people who have consulted a gp for this reason.
At the regional level, the highest incidence rates are observed in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’azur (778 cases per 100 000 inhabitants), Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (683 cases), and Normandy (593 cases). The quasi-totality of metropolitan activity is strong, except Corsica.
This epidemic 2017-2018 is characterized by a very high intensity, with a predominance of the virus of type A(H1N1) – like, and it particularly affects the youth : 49% of trips to emergency rooms for influenza-like illness relate to the age of 15, and almost 20% lead to hospitalization. However, the epidemic peak is not yet reached.

A back-to-school high-risk

In the perspective of the new school year on Monday, 8th January, the directorate-general of Health (DGS) call for the contribution of all to reduce the rapid progression of this virus : it is enough to adopt simple gestures, “gestures barriers” to prevent the transmission of the disease. It is therefore essential that each person takes day-to-day simple acts of prevention aimed at limiting the circulation of the influenza virus, especially in communities and in public transport where it is easily spread.
Considering the epidemiological context and the proximity of students in classes and on playgrounds, the prevention measures against the virus of the flu in school settings must be reinforced from the beginning of the 8 January.

Prevention measures

These “gestures barriers” are recalled by TV spots and radio emergency developed with public Health France in the event of a flu epidemic of great magnitude. The Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel (CSA) has been entered so that these messages of health prevention should be disseminated as widely as possible, according to the mechanism foreseen by the broadcasting law of 30th September 1986.
There are 7 gestures barriers to adopt to protect themselves against viruses of winter :
• Procedure 1 : wash hands
• Gesture 2 : cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing
• Gesture 3 : to blow nose into a tissue, single-use
• Gesture 4 : avoid touching the face, especially the nose and the mouth
And when it is reached by the virus of the winter :
• Gesture 5 : to limit the outings, contact the doctor if needed
• Gesture 6 : to limit the direct contacts and indirect (via objects)
• Gesture 7 : wear a mask (especially when one is in contact with frail people)

Collision with other epidemics

The epidemic of gastro-enteritis has also progressed on the territory compared to the previous week. The seven regions are now in the epidemic phase (Hauts-de-France, Grand, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Occitania, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’azur and Corsica), six are in the phase of pre-epidemic, and only one remains untouched (the Loire valley).
The epidemic of bronchiolitis which affects children under two years of age is also progressing : it has caused 4 600 passages to the emergency room and 715 visits by SOS Doctors (respectively 6 and 11% more than the previous week). All regions are in ” epidemic phase “, with the exception of the Île-de-France which is output after having been affected earlier than the other regions.

The Department, the DGS and ARS alert

The ministry of Solidarity and of Health remains vigilant during the epidemic period in the light of the tensions that may arise in all sectors of the healthcare supply, as well as the occurrence of any increase of severe cases of influenza.
The regional agency of health (ARS) are mobilized to ensure the permanence of the care, and thus prevent the engorgement of the emergency services who already work in tight flow.

When to see a doctor ?

The appearance of these symptoms, it is not necessary to rush to the hospital or to the doctor. Encourage a visit to the doctor if it is an infant, if you are pregnant or over 65 years of age, or in the case of chronic illness (diabetes, heart failure, respiratory or renal…)
It is also necessary to see if there is a sudden aggravation of the disease and in the absence of improvement after 72 hours.

When to go to the emergency room ?

On the other hand, it is necessary to go directly to the emergency room if the influenza appears immediately very aggressive with a high fever over 40°C or poorly supported, and in cases of uncharacteristic signs : shortness of breath at rest or difficulty breathing, productive cough with expectoration of pus-like appearance, an oppression at the chest, serious difficulties to move, the neck very stiff, a feeling of confusion, convulsions.

Even if it is not necessary to go to the emergency room ” for nothing “, the flu is obviously not a disease to be taken lightly.