With the arrival of a new dangerous strain of flu virus in the UK, health experts are warning everyone about what could be worse than the 1968 flu epidemic that claimed about one million lives worldwide. The H3N2 virus, nicknamed as the Aussie Flu after it has caused more than 300 deaths and struck down around 170,000 people in Australia last winter, is a subtype of Influenza A.
The virus mainly affects the elderly (65 years old and above), people with weakened immune systems, and those who have long-term health conditions, while children and pregnant women are also at risk. The virus can lead to pneumonia and other potentially deadly complications.
Plymouth, Doncaster and Durham are considered Aussie flu hot spots according to a map compiled by the FluSurvey website. There are no reported outbreaks in other parts of the UK. Hundreds of individuals have been hospitalised, with 17 people in England and Wales admitted to the ICU. The deaths in the UK caused by the H3N2 virus have doubled within a span of a week. As of writing, Public Health England data indicated a total death toll of 48 this winter, compared to the 23 deaths only last week.
10 Signs and Symptoms of the H3N2, Aussie Flu Virus
The signs of the H3N2 virus are somewhat similar with other strains of flu but can be more severe. Here are 10 telltale signs and symptoms of the deadly H3N2:
- A sudden fever with a temperature of 38°C or above
- Body ache
- Loss of appetite
- Dry, chesty cough
- Sore throat
- Difficulty sleeping
- Diarrhoea or stomach pain
Everyone is encouraged to get a flu jab as it is the best preventative for flu for now. Although it takes 10 to 14 days to take effect, Dr. Richard Pebody from PHE believes it will provide reasonable protection against the H3N2 virus. He added that people should take advantage of the free vaccines given to those at risk. If you feel like you have caught the flu virus, directly go to your GP to be prescribed an anti-viral medicine to treat your symptoms. Antibiotics are not prescribed as they do not relieve symptoms or aid in recovery.
The Flu virus naturally clears up by itself after about a week but there are ways for people to recover faster. Aside from taking paracetamol or ibuprofen, it is important to keep warm and have enough rest and sleep. Drinking plenty of fluids especially water is important to avoid dehydration.
Because prevention is still better than cure, people are advised to wash their hands regularly, wear masks in public places and stay at home when they can. After school or work, it is better to go straight home so they can take plenty of rest and lower their chances of getting sick.