50 Scots admitted to intensive care for winter flu
Health Protection Scotland said 15 more intensive care cases had been reported to them since last week’s data was published, affecting patients admitted to hospital in the last five weeks.
The nine deaths reported so far this flu season are lower than previous years, but experts warned the number could rise as patients in hospital fail to recover.
The current mortality rate stands at 18 per cent - nine deaths in 50 intensive care cases - compared to rates ranging between 28.9 per cent and 35.6 per cent in the previous three winter seasons.
Dr Jim McMenamin, an epidemiologist at HPS, said: “Overall the mortality at the moment is lower than the previous years. But we will see what happens over the rest of the season.
“Once you get to intensive care you may be there for some time. It is not to say that the final mortality won’t be higher because sadly once you have been ill enough to end up in intensive care, ideally we’d like everyone to survive that, but many people don’t, despite the most advanced interventions available to us.”
The majority of intensive care cases - 46 - are linked to the swine flu strain of the virus, which was involved in the 2009 pandemic. After a pandemic, it is normal for the pandemic strain to become a common part of the winter flu season.
HPS said the severe cases were spread across different age groups, but the highest proportion (51 per cent) was in the 45 to 64 group.
The agency said: “As seen in previous seasons, the majority of the cases had underling medical conditions that predisposed them to severe influenza infection.”