THE FREEZING weather in the Netherlands has led to an increase in people suffering flu and has almost reached epidemic levels.
There is an epidemic if 51 out of 100,000 people have flu-like symptoms. Mid-February, when the Netherlands was under the spell of severe cold weather there were many new flu bug cases just below the epidemic level, according to Nivel, the Dutch Institute for Health Services Research.
The influenza virus spreads usually in the coldest periods. The cold this winter came later than in previous years in the Netherlands and thus the flu epidemic.
Flu cases in South and Southeast Europe, Norway and Belgium have already exceeded the epidemic level.
Doctors recommend following general good hygiene practices: washing hands regularly with soap and water, especially after sneezing or coughing; using paper tissues and throwing them away after use, and getting plenty of fresh air.