With the UK in the grip of one of the worst flu seasons in recent decades, it’s never been more important to take care of your health to avoid catching the virus.
The number of people dying from influenza in England and Wales has reached the highest level since a devastating flu epidemic hit the UK three years ago.
Aussie flu – the H3N2 strain of the influenza virus – is just one of the several strains circulating in the UK at the moment, and symptoms, described as more severe than normal flu, include an aching body, a dry chesty cough and a sudden fever.
Wishing your hands regularly and throwing away tissues quickly are some of the best ways of preventing the virus from spreading.
Aussie flu – the H3N2 strain of the influenza virus – is just one of the several strains circulating in the UK at the moment
But for those looking forward to the end of flu season, Dr Sarah Jarvis says it’s likely the virus could stick around until March.
She added: “I reckon we’ve got a good few weeks to go. Cases are still on the rise but the rise does seem to be tailing off.
“We’ve got over twice as many people in this year to see GPs as we had in the same time last year. The rise is definitely starting to flatten off, and what we do know is, given that we are still two, three times normal levels, it’s got a long way to go before it drops back to a really low level.
“I don’t think we’ve had the peak yet.
Aussie flu symptoms have been described as the same as normal flu but more severe (GETTY)
Aussie flu is yet to reach its peak according to Dr Sarah Jarvis (GETTY)
“Two weeks ago we had a 40 per cent rise in cases, last week was about 6.5 per cent more and now we’re seeing 3 per cent more – so it is still rising but it’s levelling off more.”
The flu jab is also recommended each year to protect people from the illness – but why might it not be as effective this year?
Dr Jarvis explained that there are a number of issues with the flu and the vaccine this year.
She said: “We’ve got two or three issues with the flu vaccine/flu this year. One is that sometimes the number of cases is just high – we can’t do anything about that.
Aussie flu cases are starting to “level off” (GETTY)
“Two is that this year we’ve got two main strains circulating. One of them is the H3N2 – that’s one of the A viruses – and the point about the H3N2 is the vaccine does not appear to be as effective in terms of preventing it – even though the H3N2 is included in the vaccine.
“We’re still talking 20 to 30 per cent effectiveness, which is a great deal better than none. The second big one is a B strain and that’s called the Yamagata. Unfortunately the adult vaccine does not protect against the Yamagata.
“You get some cross protection in the vaccine from another B strain but it’s not provided at the same levels.”
Dr Jarvis still recommends people get the flu jab.