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.
Two weeks ago Ireland saw its first deaths, and just last week the potentially killer strain was confirmed in parts of England too.
Now reports of flu in the country have escalated – last night just five areas of the UK were free from all strains of the disease – including the feared Aussie strain.
The symptoms of Aussie flu are similar to those caused by normal flu, but 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.
But how can you avoid catching the infectious illness?
The NHS says the flu vaccine reduces the risk of catching flu, as well as spreading it to others.
So can the flu jab, available at GP surgeries and local pharmacies, be used to protect against Aussie flu?
The Boots trivalent and quadrivalent flu vaccines for this winter does protect against the strain, according to a Boots pharmacist.
The public should still get the flu jab if they haven’t done so already, to lower their risk of getting the deadly Aussie flu, said Angela Chalmers.
She added: “Both the current trivalent and quadrivalent flu vaccinations for 17/18 flu season offer protection against the influenza A strain H3N2.”
Boots offers the flu jab in most pharmacies in England and Wales.
How to treat the flu
If you’re already suffering flu-like symptoms, the NHS advises the follow to help you get better more quickly:
- 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)