Hospital Group Urges Public To Help Prevent Spread Of Flu

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THE South/ South West Hospital Group, which includes University Hospital Kerry, is urging the public to help prevent the spread of flu by avoiding hospitals, congested emergency departments and contacting GP surgeries by phone, so as not to infect others who may be very unwell already.

Dr. Paul Gallagher, Consultant Geriatrician, Cork University Hospital said; “Mild illnesses such as colds, sore throats, coughs and such like, are usually viral, self-limiting illnesses and can be treated at home with fluids, over-the-counter painkillers and rest. Antibiotics will not work on a viral infection, including flu. Get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids and take paracetamol or ibuprofen for temperatures, aches and pains. You can visit www.hse.ie/winter or www.undertheweather.ie for useful advice and self-care tips for treating mild viral illnesses”.

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Dr Gallagher advises that it is not too late to get the flu vaccine. It is free of charge for people in at risk groups, which includes everyone aged 65 years and over, pregnant women, anyone over six months of age with a long term illness requiring regular medical follow-up such as chronic lung disease, chronic heart disease, diabetes, cancer or those with lower immunity due to disease or treatment.

“If you have the flu, the advice is to stay in bed and rest, take fluids and use over-the-counter remedies like paracetamol to ease symptoms.  By going to the Emergency Department, you are potentially spreading the virus to people who may be in the at-risk groups i.e. sicker, immuno-compromised, elderly or frail people for whom exposure to flu could prove fatal. Only if you are in one of the at-risk categories, or you are an otherwise healthy person who is getting worse a week into a flu-like illness, should you seek medical advice from your GP”.

“The flu-vaccine is our best protection against the flu virus.  The vaccine helps your immune system to produce antibodies to the flu virus. If you then come into contact with the virus, these antibodies will attack it and reduce your chance of becoming very sick. You cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine, and the flu vaccine works within two weeks.”

People can also prevent the spread of flu through correct handwashing and covering coughs and sneezes.

• Use a tissue and place it immediately in the bin. Wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer

• If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve

• Don’t cough or sneeze into your hands. You’ll end up spreading germs to everything you touch

The public are advised to follow the advice provided on www.hse.ie/winter or www.undertheweather.ie

South/ South West Hospital Group management have requested that, where appropriate, the public contact their GP/South Doc in the first instance and explore all other options available to them prior to attending the Emergency Department if their needs are not urgent.

While hospitals in the S/SWHG are under significant pressure and are currently experiencing high volumes of patient attendances, nevertheless Management and staff will continue to focus on patient care as their main priority.

Management has requested that members of the public avoid visiting patients in hospital during this period and to contact relatives by phone if possible, except in extreme circumstances.

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