A SHARP rise in flu cases in south Cumbria has prompted health experts to warn the public of the potential dangers of the virus, and how to limit its spread.

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) is asking the public to only attend its emergency departments or visit loved ones in hospital if they have to after several patients at Furness General Hospital and the Royal Lancaster Infirmary tested positive for flu.

Health chiefs are urging people to get their free flu jabs, and to stay away from places where the infection could spread.

Lynne Wyre, Deputy Chief Nurse, at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT), said: "I’d like to remind all visitors, members of the public and staff that at this time of year, flu remains highly infectious and can spread rapidly in closed environments such as hospitals, schools and care homes.

"Any visitors, members of the public or UHMBT staff who may be feeling unwell, or may have been in contact with a person, with flu like symptoms in recent days, should stay away from our hospitals.

"If you are still planning on visiting a loved one in hospital then masks are available on request from ward staff."

A bad flu strain, known as H3N2 has taken hold in Australia and has claimed a number of lives. It is feared that this may have spread to the UK, however confirmed figures of this strain in the south of Cumbria are unavailable.

Dr Alex Gaw Local GP and Chair of Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group added: “While Flu can be a very unpleasant viral illness, it can also be very serious, especially for vulnerable groups or those already ill in hospital and undergoing treatment.

"We would therefore advise that you to stay home, get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids and use paracetamol or ibuprofen to control your temperature and treat aches and pains."