One of the strains of influenza circulating the UK this year is a type of flu known as H3N2 – also known as ‘Aussie flu’.
There have been more than 1,600 cases in the UK over the winter period.
Health experts are now urging people to go for flu vaccinations as the strain has taken the lives of people in the UK and Ireland.
The strain of the disease has affected up to 170,000 people in Australia – more than two-and-a-half times last year’s total.
According to the online FluSurvey map, the bug has hit many places in the UK as the NHS has been battling one of the worst flu seasons in 50 years.
But the map relies on self-reported data from patients – which means the true figure could be even higher.
Bethany Walker, 18, died after catching the flu virus after it developed into pneumonia.
Her death comes as flu deaths have risen by 77% in just one week in England, according to Government figures, prompting fears of the worst outbreak in 50 years.
What is Australian flu?
There are two main types of flu – A and B.
One of the strains of influenza circulating the UK this year is a type of A flu known as H3N2.
‘Aussie flu’, the H3N2 subtype of influenza A, is a particularly violent strain of flu, with more aggressive symptoms than usual.
Why is it called Australian flu?
The particular strain of H3N2 flu that is affecting the UK is similar to the type that Australia suffered from earlier this year, during their winter.
According to the NHS, flu symptoms may include a sudden fever, with a temperature of at least 38C, diarrhoea or stomach pain, and nausea and vomiting.
How to treat the flu
- Rest and sleep;
- Keep warm;
- Take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature and treat aches and pains;
- GPs do not prescribe antibiotics as they will not relieve symptoms or help recovery.
- Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration (your urine should be light yellow or clear);
- I symptoms persist or get worse, then seek medical advise.
How long does it usually last for?
Flu usually clears up by itself after around a week or two, but it is advisable you take the steps above in order to alleviate any of the associated symptoms.
You can seek advice most easily from a pharmacist, and are encouraged not to call 999 or go to A&E unless you develop sudden chest pain, have trouble breathing or start coughing blood.
Patients are advised to only go to their GP if their symptoms fail to improve after seven days, they are a child, over-65, pregnant or have a long-term medical condition or weakened immune system.
Prevention is also the best cure and the flu jab is regarded as the best way to protect yourself.
It is also advised to wash your hands frequently, and if coughing and sneezing try not to do it into your hands but into the crook of your elbow to prevent the spread of bacteria. Try to eat well and exercise to boost immunity.