Australian flu is the H3N2 strain of the flu virus, and was given its name – for short ‘Aussie flu’ – after it affected up to 170,000 people in Australia during its winter.
This was more than two-and-a-half times last year’s total and over 300 people who caught the disease were reported to have died.
Eighty five people in the UK have died from influenza since October 5, with 27 of those coming in the first week of January, a shock Public Health England (PHE) report revealed last week.
Almost 2,000 people have been hospitalised by flu this winter, the report also revealed. About one in four of those cases were caused by the deadly Aussie flu.
But how can regular sex help ward off colds and flu?
A study by psychologists in Pennsylvania found sex once or twice a week can dramatically improve the human body’s virus-fighting abilities.
This is because sex increases the production of the antibody Immunoglobulin A (IgA), which fights off infection.
The Wilkes University study found people sleeping with their partner once or twice a week had 30 per cent more to the chemical in their saliva and mucosal lining than those who didn’t have sex.
But, the research also found that couples who had sex three times a week or more had lower IgA levels than those who refrained from sex.
Clifford Lowell, an immunologist at the University of California at San Francisco, told the BBC: “Sexually active people may be exposed to many more infectious agents than sexually non-active people.
“The immune system would respond to these foreign antigens by producing and releasing more IgA.”
Unfortunately, the researchers are yet to find a reasonable explanation for why more sexually active people do not experience a rise in IgA levels.
So what are the symptoms to look out for?
The symptoms are similar to those caused by normal flu, but are more severe.
The NHS outlines nine flu symptoms:
- A sudden fever – a temperature of 38C or above
- Aching body
- Feeling tired or exhausted
- Dry, chesty cough
- Sore throat
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Diarrhoea or tummy pain
- Nausea and being sick
To help you get better more quickly, the NHS also advises to:
- Rest and sleep
- Keep warm
- Take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature and treat aches and pains
- Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration (your pee should be light yellow or clear)
Last week there were reports of Japanese flu in Greater Manchester. But what is the difference between this and Aussie flu and will the flu vaccine protect against this new strain of influenza?