First Steps Womens Centre Dungannon

First Steps Womens Centre Dungannon

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'Aussie flu' has been making headlines recently, but what is it and how does it differ from the normal flu?

The NHS has been experiencing a bad flu season after a strain, dubbed the ‘Aussie flu’, has spread globally.

Last year in 2017, Australia was hit hard with the flu around winter time – which is around July there – and it caused big problems for the country.

The strain, H3N2, is an influenza A virus – one of the most common types – that appears to cause more severe infections in young children and the elderly.

For those people, and those with pre-existing health conditions such as asthma, this strain of flu can be deadly.

'Aussie flu' has been making headlines recently, but what is it and how does it differ from the normal flu?

The NHS has been experiencing a bad flu season after a strain, dubbed the ‘Aussie flu’, has spread globally.

Last year in 2017, Australia was hit hard with the flu around winter time – which is around July there – and it caused big problems for the country.

The strain, H3N2, is an influenza A virus – one of the most common types – that appears to cause more severe infections in young children and the elderly.

For those people, and those with pre-existing health conditions such as asthma, this strain of flu can be deadly.

Is Aussie flu worse than other types of flu?
The so-called Aussie flu – H3N2 strain – is actually not new and was around last winter.

While any strain of the flu can be dangerous for people who are vulnerable to it, the elderly are at highest risk.

Prof Paul Cosford, medical director from Public Health England (PHE), said:

‘The levels of flu being seen are high and of course that is contributing to the pressures in the NHS, but they are not unprecedented levels.’

He also suggested that while Aussie flu was circulating at ‘significant’ levels, there are also two other strains of flu that are causing problems: an unknown type of influenza A and influenza B – which is normally a milder strain – but appears to be affecting older people in care homes.

So far, 93 people have already lost their lives to the flu – 85 in England and eight in Scotland – so protecting your family is crucial.

What about Japanese flu?
You may have heard about a strain of Japanese flu – also known as Yamagatu – spreading across the UK. This type (a B strain) is known to particularly affect children.

Experts say this is because their immune systems excrete, or ‘let out’, more of the virus. And they may not be as thorough when it comes to washing hands etc, so this makes them ‘super spreaders’.

So although the Japanese flu strain is less severe than the ‘Aussie flu’ H3N2, it’s spread more easily.

While another strain, French flu, is also affecting people in the UK. It’s similar to the Aussie flu viral infection, and has killed around 30 people in France, say reports.

Can the flu vaccine protect my family?
The flu vaccine reduces the risk of catching flu, as well as spreading it to others.

Every year, the World Health Organization reviews the global situation and recommends which flu strains should go into the vaccine to be manufactured for the following season.

This year's flu jab is designed to protect against H3N2 as well as some other strains.

And the flu vaccine in the form of the nasal spray that's given to children, does protect against Japanese flu.

‘We encourage anyone who is eligible to take up their offer of the flu vaccine – it is not too late,’ Professor Cosford said.

For more information on the flu vaccine, click here.

Courtesy of Netmums

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