Almost half of influenza patients in Dubai were younger than 10 years old, a new study of the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has revealed.
The first in-depth study on seasonal influenza in the emirate, the DHA research looked into the data that were gathered from healthcare facilities between 2017 and 2019.
It aims to shed light on this highly contagious viral infection, identify risk factors, and determine who are most vulnerable to the disease, said Khalif Jallaf, director of the data Analysis, research and studies department at the DHA. Experts discussed the research during a DHA webinar on Monday.
While the highest rate of infection was detected among kids - especially students - seniors were also found to be at high risk, the findings showed.
The study also revealed that majority of those who caught the flu - 84.53 per cent of the total cases - were handled at the outpatient level. Some 15.47 per cent of patients suffered severe infection and had to be admitted to hospitals.
In the last three years, the incidence rate of seasonal influenza was also found to be increasing but not at an alarming level, it added.
When does flu season start?
Influenza cases in Dubai usually reached its peak in November, followed by December, according to the study. The least number of cases was recorded in July. The spike in infection, however, would start in October and last until February.
With October now just a couple of weeks away, the DHA urged community members - especially those at high risk of getting infected - to get vaccinated before the flu season starts.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), influenza affects more than 10 per cent of the total population annually worldwide. It is highly contagious and spreads easily, especially in crowded areas including schools and nursing homes.
For the DHA study, a retrospective record review was carried out for a sample of nearly 30,000 confirmed seasonal influenza cases reported in Dubai from 2017 to 2019.
All age groups, gender, nationalities, occupations, education and seasons were considered.
Among the experts who discussed the study's findings were the webine moderator, Dr Hamid Yahya Hussain, consultant in the Data Analysis, Research and Studies Department at the DHA, and the speakers, which included Dr Abdishakur Abdulle, associate director at the Public Health Research Centtr, New York University Abu Dhabi. and Dr Heba Mamdouh, public health expert and researcher in the Data Analysis, Research and Studies Department of the DHA.
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