This year Christmas is not as cold as it was a few years ago, but it does not change a lot: flu puts our Christmas at risk. And while mild temperatures have kept the seasonal virus at bay so far (according to experts, its activity remains “at grass-roots levels”), festivities are going to be its “ideal cradle”. Just think about it: many people gathered in closed rooms: the ideal environment for pathogenic agents. “These days of festivities and close contact are the best incubator for the spread of the disease whose trends confirm so far the forecasts made at the beginning of the season”, according to the virologist Fabrizio Pregliasco from the University of Studies of Milan who told AdnKronos Salute that they expect “an increase in the number of cases, even if much will depend on the thermal pattern”.
If we leave aside the unknown element of weather, there is still the smog emergency, which might favor the viruses: “With our respiratory tract already irritated by fine dust – the expert analyzes – viruses may find an open breach to break more easily into the target apparatus”. At the moment, however, “the incidence of flu syndromes remains typical for the beginning of the season”: there are about 90,000 cases estimated during the last monitored week (December 14-20), equal to a total incidence of 1.49 cases per 1.000 patients. Since the beginning of the epidemiological surveillance, about 573 thousand Italians have been struck by viruses.
“There are some flu viruses isolations confirmed throughout Italy – Pregliasco continued – also in Lombardy and Milan, with infections caused by stipes present in the vaccine” that was confirmed as a pillar of prevention. “We still have time to protect ourselves”, the virologist recommends. “During the 51st week of 2015 – according to the Influnet network’s bulletin of the Higher Institute of Health – 756 sentinel doctors have sent data concerning the frequency of flu syndromes among their patients”. As usually, the most affected ones are children: in the age group between 0 and 4 years, incidence is equal to 4.18 cases/1.000 patients. In the age group going from 5 to 14 years, there are 1.81 cases/1.000. Among individuals between 15 and 64 years of age, the incidence drops to 1.57/1.000 and among the over 65 to 0.56/1.000. “In all the regions, the incidence is below the threshold of the epidemic, except in Piedmont, in the Autonomous Province of Trento, Lazio, Campania and Basilicata regions”.
The report points out that ‘the incidence observed in some regions is strongly influenced by the small number of doctors and pediatricians who have sent their data in time”. How can I protect myself? The first advice is vaccinating those who belong to the risk categories. But also “beware temperature leaps” Pregliasco reminds us, suggesting as usually, to dress in layers. As to smog, “the most critical hours are the central hours of the day. It would be better to air the rooms in the morning and in the evening.