Belfast Telegraph

Flu outbreak at care home sparks urgent issue of drugs

By Lisa Smyth

Every resident in a Londonderry nursing home for vulnerable elderly people is being given flu prevention treatment in the wake of an outbreak of the virus.

So far, two residents have tested positive for flu, and visitors have been urged to stay away.

A spokeswoman from the Western Health & Social Care Trust, which owns Seymour Gardens Care Home, said both confirmed victims are being treated with Tamiflu.

The remainder of the residents at the 26-bed facility are also receiving the flu jab as a precautionary measure.

The two cases at the nursing home, which cares for people with dementia, come just weeks after the deaths of six people in a private nursing home in neighbouring Co Donegal — all as a result of flu.

It emerged on Saturday that 11 residents of the home were being treated for a flu-like illness. Ten of them were given antibiotic treatment as a precautionary measure until tests could confirm the nature of their illness.

The trust spokeswoman said two of them were subsequently diagnosed as having flu although she did not provide details on the strain of the virus.

She said: “The trust has informed the families of the residents and is discouraging all visiting at this time.

“The trust's infection prevention and control team continues to provide advice and increased infection control measures have been taken at the care home. The trust is closely monitoring the situation and has informed the Public Health Agency (PHA).

“Influenza can have serious consequences for elderly people and the trust would wish to take this opportunity to remind people in the at-risk groups to ensure they are immunised.”

It is not known whether any of the residents at the home had received the flu vaccination.

Deputy chair of the Stormont health committee, Jim Wells, said he hopes everything is being done to ensure the safety of residents in Seymour Gardens Care Home.

“This does seem rather unusual given the fact we are coming in to May and you would think we would almost be out of the flu season.

“However, the virus can be particularly dangerous to elderly people so it is vital the trust ensures the residents are getting the treatment they require.

“I also hope staff who work there are taking all the precautions necessary.”

Factfile

Latest statistics from the Public Health Agency show only one person with flu was admitted to critical care from April 16 to 22 — bringing the total number of people taken to critical care with flu this season to 10. By the end of March, 77% of people over the age of 65 had received the seasonal flu vaccine. Tamiflu is a treatment given to people with flu which helps to reduce the severity and length of the illness.

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