Winter viral illnesses circulating in North East Schools
Public Health England North East’s health protection team is working with local authorities across the region after receiving reports from schools of flu and other winter viral illnesses amongst pupils.
Dr Gayle Dolan, Consultant in Health Protection for PHE NE, said: “Around 60 schools across the region are reporting absences due to symptoms of likely viral illness including influenza (flu) and norovirus.
“We expect viral illnesses of this kind to circulate in schools and the community at this time of year and we have been providing advice to parents and schools to help reduce the spread of infection.
“The flu vaccination is the best form of protection we have. If they haven’t already had the flu nasal spray, it is important children who are in the clinical risk groups of flu visit their GP as soon as possible to be vaccinated. Primary school children should take up the opportunity to be vaccinated when their school vaccination programme begins, and toddlers aged two and three should visit their GP surgery as normal to receive this.”
Flu and flu-like viruses spread easily between people from coughs and sneezes. They can live on hands and surface for up to 24 hours. Symptoms of flu may develop quickly and can include:
- Sudden fever
- Dry, chesty cough
- Sore throat
- Aching body
- Diarrhoea or tummy pain
For most healthy people flu is an unpleasant but self-limiting illness. However, some people can be more at risk of developing severe illness or complications including the following groups:
- those aged 65 years or over
- pregnant women
- those with a long-term medical condition – for example, diabetes or a heart, lung, kidney or neurological disease
- those with a weakened immune system – for example, because of chemotherapy or HIV
- those resident in long term care facilities
The flu vaccine is the best form of protection we have, it reduces the risk of catching flu and spreading it to others and is available every flu season for at-risk groups and primary school children.
For more information please visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/flu/.