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Doctor’s stark warning not to underestimate winter flu virus

A pregnant woman getting her winter flu jab. 
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

A pregnant woman getting her winter flu jab. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

A doctor has warned people not to underestimate the power of the flu virus and how easily it can spread as winter approaches.

Dr Thomas Pulimood, a consultant in respiratory medicine at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: “People often underestimate the power of the flu virus which can cause severe illness, even death, among at-risk groups, including older people, pregnant women, and adults and children with an underlying health condition.

“We have already seen patients come into hospital who are suffering with flu-like symptoms so the earlier you get your flu jab the better, especially if you fall within one of the at-risk groups.

“One droplet from someone sneezing could contain hundreds of viruses. The flu vaccine is the best protection we have against this unpredictable and infectious virus. It is one of the safest in the world and given to millions of people in the UK each year.”

Anne How, lead infection prevention nurse at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: “As well as getting the flu jab, washing your hands is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself and others from illnesses such as the cold and flu viruses.

“You should wash your hands frequently during the day, but particularly after you’ve been to the toilet, before and after preparing and eating food, and after having contact with animals, including pets.

“People you come into contact with may be particularly vulnerable to germs without you even knowing it.

“It’s also especially important to make sure your hands are clean before and after visiting a patient in hospital or another healthcare setting, to limit the spread of infection by contact.

“Washing your hands thoroughly should take as long as singing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice, which is around 20 seconds.”

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