Public Health Institute warns of flu epidemic

The Scientific Institute for Public Heath warns that a flu epidemic is on its way. Although cases of flu in Belgium are yet to reach epidemic levels, things are set to worse. Before a flu outbreak can be called an epidemic cases of flu need to have exceeded the so-called “epidemic level” of 139.5 flue-related GP visits per 100,000 population during two consecutive weeks.

In the week between 24 and 30 December 142 per 100,000 Belgians went to their family doctor with flu symptoms. This was a big increase compared with the previous week.

If this is repeated this week, the flu outbreak will be officially considered to have reached epidemic levels. A WIV spokesman told journalists that it will be Wednesday 9 January at the earliest before we know whether or not epidemic levels have been reached.

The Institute stresses that due to the Christmas and New Year holiday it is difficult to predict how the number of flu cases will evolve.

"A slowdown in the increase in cases is often noted during school holidays;” The flu season normally runs from November to April.