Feared Aussie strain took hold over Christmas, leading to more hospital overcrowding

     KILLER Microscope image of the deadly H3N2 strain

GETTY KILLER Microscope image of the deadly H3N2 strain

Flu season runs from October through the month of April, but now with so much more worldwide travel, there are actually cases of influenza reported year round according to Livingston County Medical Director Dr. Don Lawrenchuk. The graph below shows the number of visits for influenza-like illness (not confirmed cases) for the last few years. "So, that's a bit of concern", she says.

The Irish Health Service Executive (HSE) said a "small number" of people had died in the last fortnight after contracting the H3N2 strain - the one blamed for numerous deaths in Australia a year ago.

Visiting at one hospital has been cut as health boards across Wales have reported increases in people with flu.

Getting vaccinated still provides protection against infection and maintaining good personal hygiene by washing hands frequently, wearing a mask in crowded places and seeing a doctor when symptoms arise can also enhance protection, he said. "It is all flu A, which is a little more serious."The preparation for the flu is all about communication across the entire health system, Keim said".

When determining between cold versus flu, Kendrick said physicians have a hard time.

"Those people who ran into severe complications didn't have the vaccine", he said.

"It will not only help to protect them from flu, but also those they come into contact with", she said.

Usually, just one subtype, either influenza A or B, is responsible for the majority of cases.

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"These indicators tell us that flu is actively starting to circulate in the community, yet it's not too late for people at risk to get the vaccine from their GP or pharmacist".

Both countries are now recovering from their worst outbreaks on record, and it became likely that the virus would make it our way, becoming the worst flu season on record.

"There is an antiviral they can perscribe if you're in your first 48 hours of symptoms". Despite these painful symptoms, most people will recover in less than two weeks.

Everyone can benefit from getting the vaccine.

Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every season. Flu shots can also be administered through local healthcare providers and pharmacies.

For those who get vaccinated, if they do still contract the flu, it will most likely be a milder version than those who do not get immunized, according to the CDC. This might include gelatin, antibiotics, or other ingredients.

Aussie flu can lead to pneumonia and other potentially fatal complications.

Dr. Mendoza says influenza is contagious up to one day before some has symptoms, and can remain contagious until about a week after the patient begins to have symptoms. On average, there are about 400 to 600 deaths a year which are associated with the flu indirectly.

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