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‘FLU epidemic has broken out in eleven regions of Spain following on from the 26 cases of H1N1 in Aragón, of which one person has already died.

Medics advise that the modern influenza vaccination is now effective against H1N1 and is calling for everyone aged 60 or over, all those who work with the public especially children, the sick or the elderly, and anyone with a pre-existing health condition to get their jab while stocks last.

This is as late as March in some regions, but in others, as early as the end of January.

Whilst in the case of the bird ‘flu outbreak in Aragón, all patients had existing health conditions, those in other regions suffering with influenza have mainly been children aged under 15.

A total of 239 people have been admitted to hospital with ‘flu since October, and 11 have died.

The epidemic appears to have affected Catalunya, Madrid, the Balearic Islands, Asturias, Navarra, the Basque Country, La Rioja and Aragón, where it has exceeded 62 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, and in Extremadura, Valencia, Castilla-La Mancha and Castilla y León where the incidence of ‘flu is higher than average for the time of year.

In 90 per cent of cases of patients who have died, the sufferers had other chronic health problems, were aged over 44 and only half of them were vaccinated.

The mostly commonly-seen ‘flu viruses have been H1N1 (bird ‘flu), A-H1N1 (swine ‘flu), and AH3N2, or the common influenza, the latter of which has been seen most in the Balearic Islands, Catalunya, Cantabria and Navarra.

About 69 per cent of cases have developed pneumonia as a result, and 45 per cent have been admitted to intensive care units for treatment.

The ministry of health insists that there is ‘nothing abnormal’ about the ‘flu epidemic and that there is ‘no need’ for ‘social alarm’, but stresses that all those at risk should be given an influenza jab.