Flu epidemic sweeps across France one month early

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Flu epidemic sweeps across France one month early
The flu has arrived. Photo: France's Department of Health

France's Department of Health announced on Wednesday that the majority of the country has officially been struck by the flu epidemic, a month earlier than in previous years.


If you feel that there's an awful lot of coughing and sneezing around you then you're probably right. 
The flu has come early to France, around a month earlier than it did in the past two years, and reportedly the earliest it has come in the last ten years.
And it has hit hard. Wednesday's bulletin from the Department of Health noted that nine out of France's 13 regions were at "epidemic" level.
The only regions that are still in the "pre-epidemic stage" were: Hauts-de-France, Corsica, Pays de la Loire and Centre-Val de Loire (in orange below).
The rest are red.
The virus, which typically keeps people ill for three to five days, broke out in western France's Brittany and in the greater Paris region. 
Four people have died from severe cases so far.
"We can't explain it. But one thing is sure, the cold period favours the spread of the virus, and people tend to stay indoors," Sylvie Behillil at the Health Department told Le Parisien newspaper. 
The Department of Health has said that 11 million people are vulnerable, particularly pregnant women, those over the age of 65, and the chronically ill. It recommended that these people in particular seek out vaccinations from their local health care professional. 
The department said that people should take extra measures to ensure they stay healthy, including: Drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated, washing your hands regularly, avoid going out if possible, throwing used tissues in a closed bin. 
It added that it was impossible to know when the flu epidemic would reach its peak - when it's predicted to infect up to 6 million people - but it said that we can expect the virus to be around for another 14 weeks or so. 


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