The flu epidemic that started halfway through December 2022 is now over. This is the conclusion drawn by experts of RIVM, Erasmus MC and the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (Nivel) on the basis of information supplied by GPs, hospitals and laboratories.
Number of people with flu down to pre-epidemic levels
In late January, there was a drop in the number of people who went to visit their GP with flu-like symptoms. The number fell to below the threshold value for an epidemic, but did not fall any further. Moreover, the number of samples in which the flu virus was detected remained high. There was even a slight increase. That is why the experts continued to refer to a flu epidemic. In the past two weeks, the number of people who went to visit their GP with flu-like symptoms fell further. It is now down to pre-epidemic levels. At the same time, the number of samples in which the flu virus (influenza virus) was detected also fell to the level at the start of the flu epidemic. This drop was noticed in samples supplied by GP practices, laboratories and hospitals.
About the flu epidemic
The flu epidemic started halfway through December 2022. The number of people who went to visit their GP with flu-like symptoms was above the epidemic threshold value of 58 in every 100,000 people for a total of four weeks. The epidemic peaked in the first week of 2023, when 99 in every 100,000 people went to visit their GP with flu-like symptoms.
In addition to the aforementioned threshold value, experts also looked at whether any other respiratory viruses in addition to the flu virus were present in the samples taken from a number of people who went to visit their GP with flu-like symptoms. They also looked at samples taken in laboratories and hospitals.
All that information combined showed that there were two phases in the flu epidemic. The first wave was from halfway through December until late January. This was followed by a second, milder wave lasting until now.
How can you avoid the flu (influenza) and other respiratory tract infections?
Although the flu epidemic is now over, you can still catch the flu. Flu viruses and other respiratory tract viruses, such as the RS virus and the coronavirus, are highly contagious. You can spread them by coughing or sneezing. You can lower the risk of passing the virus on to others by:
- washing your hands often;
- coughing or sneezing into the crook of your elbow;
- keeping your distance from others.
This is especially important when coming into contact with vulnerable groups of people, such as the elderly and young children. They can become seriously ill from these viruses. Vulnerable people receive an invitation for a flu jab each autumn. The flu jab is the best way to protect against the serious consequences of becoming infected with the flu virus.