HSE advises people with flu and norovirus to keep Emergency Departments free for emergencies

It’s not too late to get the flu vaccination

Kilkenny People

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Kilkenny People

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sam.matthews@kilkennypeople.ie

St Luke's Hospital.

St Luke's Hospital.

The HSE in the South-east is urging the public to help prevent the spread of flu and norovirus by steering clear of hospitals and GP surgeries, so as not to infect others who may be very unwell already.

In order to prevent the spread of flu and norovirus visitor restrictions are in place in many of acute hospitals across the South-east.  If you are planning to visit  family and friends in University Hospital Waterford, St Luke’s Hospital Kilkenny, Wexford General Hospital or South Tipperary General Hospital please note that visitor restrictions may apply. 

In order to help prevent the spread of flu, it has also been necessary to implement visitor restrictions in many private nursing homes and public nursing homes.

“What we call weather illnesses such as colds, sore throats, coughs and such like, are viral, self-limiting illnesses and can be treated with fluids and analgesia (painkillers)," says Dr Jacinta Mulroe (Specialist in Public Health medicine in the South East).

"Most of these mild illnesses are viral and can be treated by yourself at home. 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.”

It is not too late to get the flu vaccine and it is provided 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," says Dr Monroe.

"By venturing out to the GP or Emergency Department, you are not only putting your body through a stressful time, you are spreading the virus to people who may be in the at risk groups. 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 the flu like illness, should you seek medical advice from your GP.  Remember, there will be sicker, immuno-compromised, and elderly and frail people at the surgery and in our hospitals, for whom exposure to flu could prove fatal, so think before your head out the door.

“The vaccine is our best protection against a very unpredictable virus.  The flu 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.”