The danger of a new flu wave has not yet been averted, the doctors have not given the all-clear: “It has never happened that it does not happen.”
A significant increase in influenza cases has already been reported in eight European countries. Turkey, Spain and Italy are particularly affected. “The temperature and the humidity certainly also play a role,” said the flu expert, but the first “sporadic influenza attacks” are already occurring in Germany. The flu epidemic claims numerous victims every year. In the winter of 2010/2011, 160 deaths were reported to the institute in Germany alone. In addition, pathogens of the deadly swine flu virus H1N1 could be detected again this year. The virus caused a pandemic (global epidemic) in 2009/10, which also killed young people. In most cases the course of the disease would remain “moderate”, according to Silke Buda, but the flu vaccination now also protects against this dangerous virus. The Robert Koch Institute names four risk groups that should definitely be vaccinated. This includes people who are over 60 years old, as well as children and adults who suffer from chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes or cardiovascular diseases. Because of the high risk of infection, the flu vaccination is also recommended to doctors, hospital staff and employees of care facilities. “The seasonal flu wave usually starts at the end of January or the beginning of February,” explains Silke Buda. The best time for a vaccination is October and November, but two weeks are usually enough to protect the body’s immune system. The expert emphasizes that it is not too late for a vaccination in March.