Nastier strain of flu this year

The flu arrived early this year and in a far more malignant form, medical experts said yesterday as thousands of Greeks languished in their beds with high fevers and aching bones. The flu that has been spreading through homes and offices over the past few weeks is a Type A virus, Sotiris Tsiodras of the Center for Infectious Diseases Control (KEEL) told Kathimerini. Last year the first cases of winter flu occurred at the end of January and were provoked by the Type B virus, which is not as disabling as the Type A currently circulating, Tsiodras said. The current virus has knocked out thousands of Greeks for between two and seven days, provoking high temperatures, exhaustion, aching muscles, a sore throat and headaches. Ear inflammations and pneumonia are among the complications caused by this virus. According to Tsiodras, those suffering from this virus should get plenty of rest, drink lots of liquids and take painkillers but avoid aspirin and antibiotics. They should also stay away from confined public spaces and cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze to avoid passing on the virus. They should also take care when visiting hospitals, according to the advice of medical experts in Thessaloniki, who warned yesterday of a rise in so-called «super bugs» at the country's hospitals. These bugs, the most well-known of which is MRSA, are particularly difficult to fight as they have developed resistance to hospital antibiotics. The most common in Greece manifest themselves as pneumonia of the respiratory tract, and infections of the blood, stomach and urinary tract, scientists told a seminar on «hospital diseases» in Thessaloniki yesterday. Two of the main causes of these diseases are the failure of doctors and nursing staff to disinfect their hands properly and the excessive use of antibiotics by patients, according to Eleni Yiamarellou of Athens University's medical school. «Soap gets rid of dirt but not germs,» Yiamarellou said. Greeks consume more antibiotics than any of their European Union counterparts and thus reduce their tolerance to germs, experts say.