An epidemic “precocious”of “high magnitude”, “probably more deadly than in previous years”… Qualifiers multiply among specialists to describe the flu wave currently affecting France.
If the first cases were detected at the end of October 2022 in Brittany, the circulation of the virus quickly accelerated, placing all the French regions in the epidemic phase at the beginning of December, whereas the flu usually imposes itself rather in January. The indicators are now particularly high in Ile-de-France and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, according to the bulletin of Public Health France (SPF) published on Wednesday January 4.
The data collected by the health agency, from doctor’s offices, SOS-Doctors and emergency services, all testify, until the end of 2022, to an explosion in the use of care for flu syndromes, that is to say a fever above 39 ° C, of sudden onset, accompanied by muscle pain and difficulty respiratory. Since 1er January, the circulation of influenza viruses seems to be slowing down, with a 26% drop in the incidence rate, as well as a 20 point drop in the positivity rate in outpatient medicine, “but a rebound can be observed after the start of the school year”, specifies the bulletin. In addition, the activity in city medicine for flu syndrome remained at a high level of intensity among those aged 65 and over.
These symptoms are not specific to the influenza virus, which causes the flu, and can also be caused in adults by rhinoviruses, the respiratory syncytial virus – in particular responsible for bronchiolitis in infants – or even SARS-CoV-2, whose ninth wave has been ebbing since mid-December 2022.
“A classic situation in winter”
“We cannot exclude that some of the cases are actually Covid-19 cases, but this is probably a minority phenomenon.assures Sibylle Bernard-Stoecklin, of the infectious diseases department at SPF. Viral data [fournies par les tests] in town and at the hospital have enabled us to realize that our indicators in the emergency room and at SOS-Médecins are still very well correlated with the circulation of influenza viruses. »
In addition, a survey conducted by SPF among emergency services between November 2021 and March 2022 shows that two thirds of establishments systematically carry out a test in the event of flu-like illness, either through a rapid antigen-type test, or by a PCR test, the result of which is given before the patient is discharged. A reliable way to ensure contamination by the flu virus.
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