UK health experts are urging people to get their flu vaccinations following news that a potentially deadly strain of 'Aussie' Flu has already taken the lives of several people in Ireland.
The Irish health services suspect this particular strain of flu to have caused 10 deaths already and the NHS fears it is inevitable that it will claim lives across the UK sooner than later, as an estimated 1,649 people have been struck down with the infection over the Christmas period so far.
Every winter we see a steady rise in cases of people suffering from flu, so this winter it is really not any different except that this particularly virulent strain of Influenza A sub-type H3N2 has seemingly mutated and become more of a danger to public health. There are currently two strains of Flu making their way around the UK, with both Influenza A and B causing problems for the NHS.
Flu viruses are constantly mutating and each season new vaccines have to be manufactured to help protect against the new strains.
The H3N2 sub-type, which is the one causing the concern, has already triggered two and a half times the normal number of cases in Australia where it is thought the strain originated from.
Symptoms can include...
- Sudden Fever with body temperatures raised to 38C or above
- Muscle and Join aches and pains
- A feeling of exhaustion and lack of energy
- A dry and chesty cough
- Soreness to the back of the throat
- Disruption to sleeping paterns
- A sudden loss of appetite
- Tummy pain and Diarrhea
- Sickness and Dizziness
The NHS is urging people with pre-existing health conditions to get vaccinated as they are more at risk and the flu could lead to further complications, people most at risk of catching influenza over winter are those aged 65 years old and older, children who suffer from chronic illnesses, pregnant women, people who are obese and those with lower immunity such as cancer patients. It can lead to serious issues such as pneumonia if left untreated.
The flu jab is offered free to adults at risk, over-65s, pregnant women and children at risk aged six months to two years old, and a spray is offered to children up to four.
You can get vaccinated at either your local GP's office or at a local pharmacist, and although not perfect the current flu vaccine is the best defense against the virus available.
To stop the flu spreading to other family members ensure you wash your hands, clean surfaces with anti bacterial cleaners and use tissues to catch any sneezes, then promptly put them into the bin or flush them down the loo so they can not contaminate others.
The best advise for treating flu is to ensure you keep warm, rest up and sleep of possible, drugs such as paracetamol can be taken to reduce temperatures and pain in joint and muscle pain. It is also imperative to drink fluids (water) to remain hydrated. If your condition deteriorates then seek medical advise over the phone with your GP, he/she will be able to advise you if a trip to the hospital is needed or not.
This advise comes after a leading doctor warned that the pressures have escalated rapidly over the festive period, with hospitals up and down the UK left experiencing bed shortages.
"Anyone concerned about their symptoms should stay at home and contact their GP, or call NHS 111, to seek further advice."