STAFF REPORTER
MADRID/PALMA

WITH 109.8 cases for every 100'000 head of population, the incidence of flu in the Balearic Islands is well below the national average of 154.04, the Carlos III Institute disease watchdog reported yesterday. A spokesman warned however, that flu is on the increase.

According to the Institute's latest weekly report, the upturn in the number of cases is due to the renewed spread of the A/H1N1 virus. It has been the cause of 85 percent of serious cases needing hospitalisation, the spokesman said.

Findings showed that the national flu incidence level during the week from 26th December to 1st January which stood at 153.4 cases per 100'000 head of population had in fact doubled from the rate the previous week when 86.62 cases were registered.

It is therefore the second consecutive week in which Spain has exceeded the base level of flu cases established for the time of year, (set at 67.4 for every 100'000 head of population.)
Medical network “Centinela” yesterday described the intensity of the rate at which the flu is spreading as “medium”, confirming that it was taking hold at a regional level and growing in comparison to previous weeks.

Asturias is the region which for the third week running has been suffering the highest flu rate in the country - 440.7 cases for every 100'000 head of population. Next in line comes the Basque Country with 327.4; La Rioja (280.2); Castilla y Leon (248.4); Extremadura (239.1); Catalonia (189.4); Navarre (175.9); and Cantabria (159.7).

Below the national average are the Spanish city of Ceuta in North Africa (133.4 per 100'000 head of population); Aragon (123.2); the Canary Islands (122.4); the Balearics (109.8); Castilla-La Mancha (94.8); Madrid (91.7); Valencia (78); and Andalucia. No details were available from Galicia, Murcia and Melilla (also in North Africa).

In terms of those who are most affected, it is the under-15s who have the highest flu incidence rate. This week however, the virus is taking its toll amongst the 15-64 age group and indeed in those over 64. “This season's flu wave is clearly gathering momentum,” said Centinela.
Regarding the most serious cases, the Carlos III Institute said that so far there are 94 people who have been hospitalised with flu nationwide. Of the total, 59 (62.8 percent) are men. Four of the women affected at this serious level are over 7 months pregnant. The health of four of the 94 is reportedly at risk from complications triggered by the flu virus - three of them have not been vaccinated.

Of the total number of people who have been affected seriously by the virus, 90 percent had not been vaccinated.
As a result, 77 percent developed pneumonia, others are suffering from acute respiratory conditions and multiple organ failure.
Forty percent of the serious cases are being cared for in intensive care units in hospitals across the country.
Five people have so far died this season as a result of the flu virus, two of them in the 15 to 44 age group and the other three aged between 45 and 64.

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