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The flu wave hit Germany so hard - influenza caused massive deaths


RKI publishes final report of the 2017/18 flu season

The latest weekly report by the Influenza Working Group of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) on the 2017/18 flu season was published. The report contains all relevant season data and provides a terrifying overview of the actual extent of the flu wave. Since the 40th calendar week of 2017, a total of around 333,000 influenza infections confirmed by laboratory diagnostics have been reported. Almost 60,000 people had to be treated for the flu virus in hospitals and 1,665 people did not survive the infection.

These numbers are only laboratory confirmed cases. The undisclosed figure is likely to be far above these numbers. Of the 1,665 deaths, 1,212 were diagnosed with the influenza B virus. The standard vaccination offered no protection against this virus. The older population in particular suffered particularly hard from the effects. 87 percent of the fatalities were over 59 years old. The highlight of the flu season was between the ninth and eleventh calendar weeks of 2018.

Comparisons with previous years

The RKI reports that the flu wave was unusually strong in 2017/18. This could be observed across almost all age groups. Only the group of zero to four year olds was more affected in the pre-season 2016/2017. In the peak phase of this season, 70 percent more flu patients in the age group 35 to 59 years were treated in hospitals than in the 2014/15 season, which was previously the strongest in previous years. The age group of over 59-year-olds was particularly hard hit. 40 percent more people were infected here than in the previous season, which also hit this age group hard.

Distribution of flu viruses

The influenza working group declared the previous flu wave to be over in the 14th calendar week of 2018. The main pathogens in this flu wave were by far the influenza B virus (Yamagata line). With a share of 68 percent, these viruses were responsible for the majority of the diseases. In second place were the influenza A (H1N1) pdm09 viruses with a share of 28 percent. The third most common viruses were influenza A (H3N2) viruses with a share of four percent.

Purified reporting takes place in summer

With the final report of the weekly reporting, the reports of the RKI appear only once a month in the summer months. The incoming data will continue to be analyzed weekly.

Difference between flu and cold

"Do I have serious flu or a simple cold?" This question is asked by many people who have flu-like symptoms. While influenza is a serious infection that is caused by the flu virus and should definitely be monitored by a doctor, a flu infection shows similar symptoms, but is often much milder and can usually be cured by bed rest and home remedies for flu.

How do you tell the difference?

Whether you have the flu or a flu-like infection can sometimes be recognized by the fact that the symptoms develop quickly and suddenly with influenza, whereas the symptoms of a flu-like infection tend to build up slowly. In addition, the complaints of the "real" flu are usually more intense. Another difference can be seen in the course of the disease. A cold is often largely cured after a week. Influenza can be expected to last twice as long on average.

How do the symptoms differ?

Symptoms of influenza are high fever of over 38.5 degrees, which in many cases lasts up to a week. There are also sore throats, coughs, violent headaches, muscle and body aches, chills, and massive exhaustion. Complications such as pneumonia occasionally occur. In contrast, a slight scratchy throat initially manifests itself with a cold. The condition worsens slowly and the sufferers are more likely to suffer from cough, a runny nose, possibly a slight fever and headache and body aches. (vb)

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