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PHE advises the use of antivirals for flu

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The flu virus is thought to affect children This year's strain is thought to affect children and pregnant women the most severely

Flu is now circulating in the community according to the latest figures collected by Public Health England (PHE).

Based on this advice, the Department of Health (DH) is issuing guidance on the use of antiviral drugs in primary care for the management of people presenting with flu-like illness in England who are at higher risk of developing complications from flu.

Virus surveillance from the UK and elsewhere in Europe shows the strain A(H1N1)pdm09 is the main seasonal flu virus. The viruses characterised so far this season are well matched the the vaccine strain.

Dr Richard Pebody, flu expert for PHE, said: 'It’s not too late for children and people in "at risk" groups to get the vaccine for free, and this remains important now that flu is circulating. This includes people with underlying health conditions, even those that are well managed, such as asthma, diabetes, heart, lung, liver or renal diseases, those with weakened immune systems, as well as older people and pregnant women. Anyone in these groups who hasn’t yet had the vaccine should contact their GP, pharmacist or midwife, as they are at much greater risk of becoming seriously unwell if they catch flu, and sadly many end up in hospital.'

Previous flu seasons dominated by A(H1N1)pdm09 suggest this strain particularly affects children, pregnant women and adults with long term conditions ike chronic heart disease, liver disease, neorological disease and respiratory disease in particular.

Antivirals are recommended by a number of organisations including NICE, PHE, WHO and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

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