Health warning issued as flu season begins

Flu symptoms include a sudden onset of fever, coughs as well as sore throats and aching muscles and joints. Credit: David Jones/PA Wire

An increase in the number of children falling ill has signalled the start of the flu season, prompting a doctors' warning to parents to seek out anti-viral drugs.

The rise of flu among school pupils, aged five to 14, leaves several "at risk" groups more vulnerable, the Health Protection Agency said.

Dr Richard Pebody, who monitors seasonal flu for the agency, said: "These include people with underlying conditions such as heart problems, diabetes, lung, liver or renal diseases and those with weakened immune systems, as well as older people and pregnant women."

A separate health survey said reports of flu are highest in North East of England, with 19,200 cases per 100,000.