Prague - The Czech Republic is facing an inevitable outbreak of seasonal flu epidemic, according to experts.
Influenza infections are common for this time of the year but experts say that a massive epidemic is soon to break out. Normally it comes much later, they say.
"In respect to the current development I expect that it will be a matter of just several weeks, maybe days," immunologist Roman Prymula told Aktuálně.cz.
Most experts, including Prymula have expected the flu virus to hit the country in January.
H1N1 speeds up seasonal influenza
The aggressive H1N1virus has lately struck Ukraine, which reported half a million of cases of flu and respiratory infections. The H1N1 virus infections have also appeared across the whole continent.
The outbreak in Ukraine may be indicative of how the virus can behave in the northern hemisphere during the winter season, particularly in health care settings typically found in Eastern Europe," the World Health Organization (WHO) officials say.
Prymula says that it can be assumed that most cases of influenza in the region are caused by the H1N1virus. Both viruses mix and some epidemiologists say that they may mutate.
"The positive news is that the swine flu virus is relatively stable and consistent. I has not shown any significant mutation yet," Prymula said.
"In some neighboring countries high numbers of cases occur during winter influenza epidemics," epidemiologist of the State Medical Institute Jan Kynčl told Aktuálně.cz.
Last month saw a sharp increase of the cases in the country, according to the Institute.
The worst affected regions are Central Bohemia and northern Moravia, which report 2,000 people infected per 100,000 inhabitants. In other words, the figures are on the verge of an epidemic.
The Ministry of Health expects further increase in flu infection cases in the upcoming weeks.
If the worst case scenario happened, around 3 million Czechs would get infected with flu. It could be fatal for 10,000.
Annually, about two thousand people in the country die of the ordinary, seasonal flu. These are largely olderly people who have another chronic disease.
The WHO has said that more than 5,700 people worldwide have died of swine flu since the virus was first detected in April.