Hospitals and GPs fear Britain may be on the verge of a flu epidemic after experiencing the worst outbreak in seven years.

Latest figures from Public Health England show that in the last week, hospitals have seen over 4,500 people admitted with the flu – an 11% increase from the previous week.

Of those 4,500 hospital admissions, 60% have been suffering from Japanese Flu, a type of Influenza-B, with the highest rates being recorded in people aged 45 to 64.

However, the Australian Flu strain, which caused an outbreak earlier this year, is also co-circulating along with the Japanese strain of the virus.

The continued rise comes after the number of deaths from flu-related symptoms since October reached 120 in England, with 35 more deaths in the last week alone.

GPs have also felt the strain with flu rates increasing by 150% since the start of the year and a 42% increase in consultation rates for flu-like symptoms, according to the Royal College of GPs.

The Midlands and East of England, which includes Nottingham, Birmingham and Norwich, have been the worst affected areas – with 57.3 patients per 100,000 suffering from flu-like illnesses.

Despite these figures an epidemic has not yet been declared, as cases would need to increase to 100 per 100,000 people to reach that threshold.

Flu symptoms normally include:

  • a fever
  • chills
  • headache
  • aching muscles
  • joint pain
  • loss of appetite and fatigue.

The recommended treatment for flu is to rest, stay warm, drink water to avoid dehydration and take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature and help with aches and pains.