Sharp increase in cases, the epidemic promises to be early

Metropolitan France is increasingly threatened by seasonal flu, health authorities reported on Wednesday. Last week was marked by an “increase in all flu indicators”, summarized in a weekly report the French public health agency. This trend concerned all age groups, while being more marked among those under 15 years of age.

In mainland France, five regions are now in the “pre-epidemic” phase: Center-Val-de-Loire, Hauts-de-France, Île-de-France and Normandy join Brittany, already in this situation since two weeks. Overseas, the epidemic has already been declared in Martinique, Mayotte and Reunion. If influenza viruses circulate frequently in October-November in Reunion, it is “atypical” at this time in the West Indies and Mayotte, notes Public Health France.

Consultations jumped by two-thirds

In absolute terms, the number of cases is still low in mainland France and is not likely to immediately put the healthcare system in difficulty. But their increase is strong: consultations for flu-like illness have thus jumped by two thirds compared to the previous week, and the number of visits to the emergency room for flu or flu-like symptoms by 39%.

This probably gives the start signal for the epidemic, at an earlier time than has generally been observed in previous years. The seasonal flu epidemic would occur in particular much earlier than in 2021/2022, when it turned out to be particularly late.

However, the healthcare system is already facing an epidemic of bronchiolitis in babies, on an unprecedented scale for many years, and the persistent pressure of Covid-19, for which hospitalizations have rebounded in recent days. As a reminder, the flu vaccination campaign, which concerns in particular those over 65, has been launched for a month. But she does not take off. The main pharmacists’ unions warned this week of a high delay compared to last year.

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