Aussie flu – the H3N2 strain of the influenza virus – is just one of the several strains circulating in the UK at the moment.
But the deadly strain of flu is being attributed to particularly nasty cases of the virus.
The number of people dying from influenza in England and Wales has reached the highest level since a devastating flu epidemic hit the UK three years ago.
More than 15,000 deaths were recorded in the second week of January.
But NHS health leaders across the country have urged it’s not too late to vaccinate people with the flu jab for people at risk of Aussie flu.
Dr Helen Hibbs, Clinical Accountable Officer at NHS Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Group, said the flu vaccine is effective against the Australian flu and it is still not too late for people to get protected by having the flu vaccine.
Studies have proven the vaccine will help prevent flu in patients and reduce the length and strength of flu if caught.
Flu viruses change every year so people need to update their vaccination each year to match the new virus.
Dr Hibbs said: “Flu is a serious, sometimes even life-threatening illness, which people can catch easily when it is circulating. Some people are more at risk from flu and need the vaccine because they are not able to fight off flu as easily as others. For these people, flu can often result in more serious complications which require hospital treatment. It can even be fatal in some cases. So, if you’re eligible, please make sure that you get the free flu jab from the NHS. You can be sure that it won’t make you ill, and it might save your life.
“As GPs have been vaccinating patients since September we would expect at this time that some surgery stocks may be running low, so if your GP can’t help please contact your local Pharmacy.
“People suffering with flu-like symptoms should catch coughs or sneezes in tissues and bin them immediately, wash their hands regularly with soap and warm water and frequently clean regularly used surfaces to stop the spread of flu.”
So what are the symptoms of Aussie flu?
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
Those most at risk of catching Aussie flu are the over 65s, pregnant women, young kids and those with chronic conditions like diabetes, lung and heart disease.
How to treat flu
To help you get better more quickly, the NHS advises you 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)