The rapid spread of the flu virus in Greece is due to the fact that this year’s vaccine is not effective against the A(H3N2) strain, scientists say.
Five people have already lost their lives to the flu virus. As of Friday night, nine more people have been reported to be severely ill from the influenza virus and are being hospitalized in intensive care units.
The Hellenic Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO) in its weekly report says that 12 percent of patients who visit doctors show flu symptoms. Of those who show such symptoms, 45.2 percent show positive to the influenza virus, with 89.5 percent of them subject to type A. However, on the rest of the patients the A(H3N2) strain was detected, a strain that the current vaccine cannot fully kill. Greek scientists estimate that in Greece the phenomenon will culminate next month and will last through March.
The vaccine remains the best preventive measure against A strains (H1N1) pdm09, the influenza B strains and possibly protects against severe disease and complications and the differentiated strain A (H3N2), KEELPNO says. It recommends the continuation of vaccination for those belonging to vulnerable groups: people over 60 years old, children and adults with chronic diseases, pregnant and nursing mothers, people with obesity. Also it is recommended to all institutions such as prisons, institutes, schools and special schools.
At the same time, KEELPNO gives great importance to the early use of antiviral drugs against influenza in the early stages (within 48 hours), even without laboratory confirmation of influenza.
The influenza virus is also spreading throughout Europe. As indicated by the latest figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the strain A (H3N2) is dominant in most countries and the main culprit for the admissions to intensive care units. However, mortality rates of influenza patients have not increased.