Most fatal influenza cases in U.K. were in the young and middle aged

Seventy percent of fatal influenza cases in the United Kingdom this winter were found in young and middle aged adults according to a recent flu report published by the Health Protection Agency.

Those between the ages of 15 and 64 were also most likely to have visited their general practitioners with flu-like illness and to have higher rates of admission to the hospital, according to A total of 602 people in the U.K. were reported as having died with confirmed influenza infection during the 2010/2011 season.

"The information published in our annual flu report confirms that seasonal flu activity in 2010/11 was higher than last winter and that H1N1 'swine' flu was the dominant strain,” Professor John Watson, head of the respiratory diseases department at the HPA, said, reports. “Sadly, a small proportion of flu cases resulted in serious illness and death, predominantly in young and middle aged adults. Each year hundreds of thousands of people catch flu and the majority will make a full recovery. Traditionally the elderly have been more seriously affected by winter flu but the picture is beginning to change as we are now seeing a higher proportion of young and middle aged people taken seriously ill."

Approximately 20 percent of the confirmed deaths were in the over 64 age demographic. There were 25 reported deaths in children aged five to 14 years, 16 in children between one and four and nine in children less than one year old. Nine pregnant women were reported to have died from the flu this season.

At the time of the report, 91 further probable cases were under investigation to confirm flu as a cause of death.

"For the majority of people with these conditions, flu is a preventable illness and ahead of the next flu season, a concerted effort must be made by healthcare professionals - including GPs and midwifes - to encourage those at risk to take up the offer vaccination. It is the best way to protect against flu," Watson said, according to