Thousands of people were struck down with the so-called ‘Aussie flu’ virus over the festive period, and figures are expected to rise.
The outbreak is expected to be the worst in 50 years, after government statistics show cases to have soared by a whopping 48% in the last week – causing 23 deaths and leaving many people bed-bound during the new year celebrations.
But what makes this virus different from the common cold? And what symptoms should we be looking out for? We took a closer look…
‘Aussie flu’ explained
Aussie flu is the H3N2 subtype of influenza A – a particularly violent strain of flu with aggressive symptoms. It was given its nickname after wreaking havoc across Australian hospitals during the country’s winter months, and it is expected to contribute to what is predicted to be the worst winter on record for the NHS.
Wales seems to have been particularly badly hit, with many hospitals reporting ‘extreme pressure’ as a result of an increase in flu cases. One hospital in Wrexham has even suspended visiting to avoid spreading the condition.
Symptoms to look out for
The symptoms of most flu, including H3N2, are similar, but can be more severe or contagious than others. Key indicators that come on very quickly include:
- A sudden fever, with temperatures of 38C or above
- Aching body
- Feeling tired or exhausted
- Dry, chesty cough
- Sore throat
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Diarrhoea and / or tummy pain
- Nausea and / or vomiting
How to treat Aussie flu
Unfortunately, there is no one-treatment-fits-all when it comes to flu. If you do come down with one or more of the above symptoms, it is important to rest up and stay at home to stop the virus spreading.
Be sure to get as much sleep as possible, stay warm, and drink plenty of water. Paracetamol and ibuprofen can be taken for pain relief.
The flu is particularly dangerous for young children, old people, pregnant women and people with pre-existing conditions. Anyone in these ‘at risk’ categories who experiences flu symptoms should contact their GP immediately.