The flu rate doubled in Brighton and Hove in the week before Christmas, according to NHS bosses.
Dozens of people went to their doctor with the illness while many more are believed to be treating themselves for flu or flu-like symptoms at home.
The rise in cases as the peak flu season approaches prompted health chiefs to urge the public to have the flu jab to protect themselves and those around them.
Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “This winter’s influenza outbreak is now taking hold locally, with the GP consultation rate in the city for flu-like illnesses rocketing by almost 100 per cent in just one week.
“Thousands of local people could see their holiday plans turn to misery if flu levels rise as expected in late December and early January.
“The local NHS is now urging people to get their flu jab and highlighting home treatment advice due to the increased risk of flu while the country celebrates Christmas, Hanukah and the new year.
“The advice comes after flu cases rose by more than 96 per cent within the space of a week in Brighton and Hove, from 6.3 cases per 100,000 to almost double at 12.3.
“Flu symptoms come on very quickly and can be a very unpleasant illness with symptoms including fever, stuffy nose, dry cough, sore throat, aching muscles and joints and extreme tiredness, which can often last several days.
“Flu can’t be treated with antibiotics. It is caused by viruses – and antibiotics only work against bacteria, not viruses.
“Those who do get the flu will get better more quickly if they
- Get plenty of rest and sleep
- Make sure they keep warm
- Take paracetamol or ibuprofen
- Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration
“A pharmacist can also help with flu, offering treatment advice and recommending flu remedies and giving guidance on giving medicines to children.
“No appointment is necessary to see a local pharmacist and most have private consultation areas and will say if you need further medical attention.”
Katy Jackson, director of urgent care and systems resilience for the Sussex Health and Care Partnership, said: “We are now seeing this winter’s flu season take hold in the city and we are advising those who already have flu-like symptoms to rest, drink plenty of water and take paracetamol where needed.
“Whether it’s missing out on your Christmas dinner, the Boxing Day match or a new year’s party, nobody wants to be laid low by flu while the festivities are in full swing.
“The best form of protection against flu for those who have not yet had it is to get the vaccine. It still isn’t too late to get the flu vaccine, to protect yourself and vulnerable people around you.”
She said that the health service in Brighton and Hove had implemented its largest ever flu protection drive to help keep local people well and ease pressure on urgent care services over the winter.
The vaccine was free, she said, for those in the main “risk groups” which include
- All children aged two to ten on 31 August 2019
- Those aged six months to 65 years old in clinical risk groups
- Pregnant women
- Everyone over 65 years
- People in long-stay residential care homes
- Close contacts of immunocompromised individuals