Moderated initially, the flu epidemic has exploded during the holidays and some emergencies are in a critical situation. It is now described as "exceptional" by the Ministry of Health, which calls for "not sending a child who has the potential for the flu" to school. Indeed, with the return of the classes, Monday, the risk of acceleration of the epidemic worries the authorities of health.
According to a statement from the Ministry of Health, the flu epidemic is of exceptional magnitude, unpublished for more than 20 years. Above all, the predominant virus, the A (H1N1) virus affects preferentially young people under 15 years with a multiplication of hospitalizations in this population, while emergencies are already overwhelmed.
The Minister of Health, Mrs. Agnès Buzyn, asked the Superior council of audio-visual (CSA) to launch urgently an information campaign on the gestures of prevention of the flu: "the gestures barrier", which are effective for prevent the transmission of the flu.
On this day of school, she also wants all families "to be informed about the need not to send to school a child who potentially has the flu." The urgencies are overwhelmed, it is also better to consult the doctor first.
Not at the peak of the epidemic
In metropolitan France, the frequency of influenza-like illnesses seen in general medical consultations rose to 527 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, ie 343,000 new cases for the holiday week alone and an exponential increase compared with the first weeks of the epidemic.
In the week of December 25 to 31, 2017 alone, nearly 12,000 emergency room visits for influenza and influenza-like illness were reported by Public Health France, an increase of more than 80% compared to the previous week, including more than 1,250 hospitalizations.
This 2017-2018 epidemic is characterized by a very high intensity, with a predominance of type A (H1N1) virus. Above all, it particularly affects young people: 49% of the visits to emergencies for influenza-like illness are for children under 15, and almost 20% lead to hospitalization. However, the epidemic peak is not yet reached.
Back to school at high risk
For this back-to-school day, the Ministry of Health calls for "not sending a child who has the flu to school".
The General Directorate of Health (DGS), for its part, calls for simple actions, "gestures barriers" to limit the transmission of the disease. It is therefore essential that everyone adopts everyday preventive actions, especially in communities and public transport where it is easily transmitted.
Given the epidemiological context and the repeated contact between students in class and in playgrounds, prevention measures against the influenza virus in schools should be reinforced at the beginning of the school year on January 8, according to the Minister of Health. Health.
These "barrier gestures" are recalled by TV spots and emergency radio developed with Public Health France in the event of a large-scale influenza epidemic. The Superior council of audio-visual (CSA) was seized so that these messages of prevention health are diffused as much as possible, according to the device envisaged by the audiovisual law of September 30, 1986. There are 7 gestures barriers to adopt to protect themselves against the viruses of winter:
• Gesture 1: Wash your hands
• Gesture 2: Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing
• Gesture 3: Blow your nose in a disposable tissue
• Gesture 4: avoid touching your face, especially the nose and mouth
And when we are infected with winter viruses:
• Gesture 5: limit exits, contact the doctor if necessary
• Gesture 6: Limit direct and indirect contacts (via objects)
• Gesture 7: wear a mask (especially when in contact with fragile people)
The Minister of Health also recalls that it is still possible to get vaccinated, the vaccination campaign ending January 31. It usually takes two weeks to be immunized and as the peak of the epidemic is not yet reached, this remains a good way of prevention.
Telescoping with other epidemics
The outbreak of gastroenteritis has also increased in the territory compared to the previous week. Seven regions are now in the epidemic phase (Hauts-de-France, Grand Est, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Occitania, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur and Corsica), six are in the pre-epidemic phase, and only one remains spared (Pays de la Loire).
The bronchiolitis epidemic affecting children under two is also progressing: it caused 4,600 emergency room visits and 715 SOS Médecins visits (respectively 6 and 11% more than the previous week). All the regions are in the "epidemic phase", with the exception of Île-de-France, which has emerged after being affected earlier than the other regions.
The Ministry, the DGS and the ARS on alert
The Ministry of Solidarity and Health remains vigilant during the epidemic period in view of the tensions that could arise in all sectors of the supply of care, as well as the occurrence of any increase in severe cases of influenza.
The Regional Health Agencies (ARS) are mobilized to ensure the permanence of care and thus avoid the overcrowding of emergency services that are already working in a just-in-time manner.
When to consult a doctor ?
At the onset of flu symptoms (fever, angina, cough and tiredness), it is not necessary to rush to the hospital or to the doctor.
Promote a consultation with the doctor if it is an infant, if you are pregnant or are over 65, or in case of chronic illness (diabetes, heart failure, respiratory or kidney ...)
It is also necessary to consult if there is a sudden aggravation of the disease and in the absence of improvement after 72 hours.
When to go to emergencies?
On the other hand, it is necessary to go directly to the emergency department if the flu appears from the outset very aggressive with a high fever at more than 40 ° C or poorly supported, and in case of unusual signs: shortness of breath at rest or difficulty to breathe, productive cough with purulent appearance of sputum, chest tightness, significant difficulty moving, stiff neck, confusion, convulsions.
Even if you do not go to the emergency room "for nothing", the flu is obviously not an illness to be taken lightly.