Winter virus outbreak sees more than 500 patients taken to hospital

More than 500 patients were taken to hospital after being struck down with a virus sweeping parts of the country.

A total of 511 patients were diagnosed with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) between April and the end of December across North Staffordshire.

The figure is a huge increase compared with just 239 cases between April 2018 and April 2019.

And almost two-thirds of the 511 patients taken to University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust with the condition were children.

RSV is a common cause of coughs and colds in winter and is the most common cause of bronchiolitis in under twos, reports Stoke on Trent Live.

Michelle Rhodes, Chief Nurse at the Trust, said: "We have seen a significant increase in the number of flu cases across the organisation and the number of RSV cases.

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"The largest number of affected patients are those aged up to 10. There have been a number of really poorly children – a number have been in paediatric intensive care.

"We still have children in paediatric intensive care. We have also had adults in intensive care with flu.

"We have had a number of empty beds we have not been able to use because we have had flu patients in that area.

"It's coming down now but it will likely come back up again towards the end of the month. We are planning for that at the moment."

Latest figures show a further 601 patients have been admitted with flu after being taken ill between April and the end of December. Thirty of those patients have been admitted to critical care.

A UHNM report states: "For the first time influenza cases were seen every month during the summer, which is a highly unusual pattern.

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"The critical care patients have been nursed in side-rooms or cohort bays in order to protect other patients from transmission.

"There was one ward where a patient with dementia wandered around the ward, resulting in transmission to six other patients. All patients on the ward were prescribed Tamiflu prophylaxis and offered the flu vaccination."

There has been a 'poor' uptake of the children's nasal spray flu vaccination this winter. But UHNM has met its 80 per cent target to vaccinate its staff.

The UHNM report added: "We know that the pattern here is the same as Australia. The flu has come early and will potentially last longer and can be very severe. We know that the vaccine is very effective against three of the four strains of flu so it it really worth having."

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What are the RSV symptoms?

  • An increased rate of breathing;
  • Coughing;
  • Increased runny nose and phlegm;
  • A raised temperature;
  • Irritability;
  • A loss of interest in eating and drinking.

How should I treat RSV?

  • Rest;
  • Drink plenty of fluids;
  • Take pain relief medication.

How can I stop the RSV virus spreading?

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough;
  • Put used tissues in a bin;
  • Always wash your hands after coughing, sneezing or touching contaminated objects or surfaces;
  • Regularly wipe surfaces with disinfectant wipes.

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