Sat, Jan 21, 2012 - Page 2 News List

CDC urges public to take precautions as flu outbreak peaks during holiday

Staff Writer, with CNA

With the number of fatalities continuing to climb, authorities yesterday urged people to take precautions against a flu outbreak, which is expected to peak during the Lunar New Year holiday.

Three more people died from flu complications yesterday, raising the total number of flu-related deaths in the country since July last year to 31.

One of the three most recent victims was a 34-year-old Greater Kaohsiung resident who had a body mass index of 49 — way above the normal range of 18 to 24 — Centers for Disease Control (CDC) deputy director-general Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said.

The man, who died within three weeks after first coming down with flu symptoms, had not been vaccinated against influenza, and it was unclear whether he had been prescribed and treated with Tamiflu, Chou said.

Excessively overweight people are considered to be among those most vulnerable to the flu, Chou said.

The other two who succumbed to flu complications were a 77-year-old Pingtung County resident, who had been vaccinated against the flu, and an 82-year-old New Taipei City (新北市) resident who had not been vaccinated. Both suffered from chronic diseases, including colon cancer, diabetes and breast cancer.

A total of 663 confirmed severe flu cases, where people develop complications from influenza, have been reported since July 1 last year, when the current flu season officially began. Thirty-one of them have died, the CDC said.

With a large number of people returning to their family homes or traveling during the Lunar New Year holiday, which begins today, Chou urged those in high-risk groups — including children, the elderly and chronic disease patients — to take special precautions.

He advised people to wear masks in buses or trains, wash their hands more often and stay home if they come down with flu symptoms.

He added that a total of 2,725 clinics and hospitals around the country have begun providing Tamiflu to help people battle flu complications. During the Lunar New Year break, people can call the “1922” toll-free hotline to find out the nearest hospital where they can get Tamiflu to treat their condition.

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