Hong Kong health officials are advising the public to heighten vigilance and get vaccinated early against seasonal influenza in light of the severe flu season they are experiencing this year.
In the 24 hour period from Monday to Tuesday, health officials reported an additional 17 influenza-associated admission to intensive care units or death (all were fatal cases) among adults aged 18 or above.
In addition, one other death was recorded among previously reported cases.
All total, Hong Kong has recorded 369 hospitalizations due to seasonal influenza, primarily H3N2 influenza (356), including 272 deaths.
This compares to the 266 hospitalizations and 133 deaths during the same period last year.
Influenza (flu) is an acute illness of the respiratory tract caused by influenza viruses. In Hong Kong, it is usually more common in periods from January to March and from July to August.
For healthy individuals, seasonal influenza is usually self-limiting with recovery in 2 to 7 days. Symptoms may include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle pain, fatigue and headache; some may also have vomiting and diarrhoea. Cough is often severe and prolonged but fever and other symptoms generally resolve in 5 to 7 days.
However, influenza can be a serious illness to the weak and frail or elderly people, and may be complicated by bronchitis, chest infection or even death. The incubation period ranges from 1 to 4 days. Infected persons may pass the viruses to other people 1 day before and up to 5 to 7 days after they develop symptoms. The period may be even longer in young children or severely immunocompromised persons.