Aussie flu: First deaths in Ireland recorded as health experts urge vaccinations

The H3N2 strain of the flu can be especially dangerous for those aged over 65

Sabrina Barr
Tuesday 02 January 2018 11:12
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HSE on Ireland's flu outbreak: We are unsure whether Australia got the flu from us, for we got it from Australia

Health experts are urging people to go for flu vaccinations following the news that the "Aussie flu" has taken the lives of people in Ireland.

Winter is always synonymous with illness. Everywhere you go, you'll come across people coughing and spluttering as they go about their day.

However, the dangers surrounding the flu, and more specifically the H3N2 strain known as the "Aussie flu", have since escalated.

This morning, HSE’s assistant national director for health protection Dr Kevin Kelleher spoke on RTÉ Radio 1’s Morning Ireland about the looming prospect of a flu epidemic.

He confirmed that currently less than ten people have died after contracting the flu in Ireland this winter.

Kelleher explained that some people are more at risk of "Aussie flu" than others and that the symptoms can affect you very quickly.

“I’m not sure if the Australian flu is the Irish flu because they got it from us, or it’s the Australian flu because we got it from them, but we know it’s that virus,” he said.

“The flu, generally speaking, really hits you very hard.

"You speak to people who've had the flu and know they've had the flu, been told explicity they've had the flu, they often find it difficult to get out of bed, it's not an easy thing to do.

“It’s just the few people who have pre-existing conditions or who are quite elderly, who often have pre-existing conditions, who need to be admitted to hospital.”

The Health Service Executive’s weekly influenza surveillance report, published for the week ending December 17, illustrated an increase in influenza activity.

According to the HSE, the people most at risk of catching influenza over winter are those aged 65 years old and older, children who suffer from chronic illnesses, pregnant women, people who are obese and those with lower immunity such as cancer patients.

The HSE has outlined how the symptoms of influenza can differ from the common cold.

“The symptoms of influenza usually develop over a matter of a few hours and include a high temperature, sore muscles, dry cough, headache and sore throat.

“This is different from the common cold, which tends to come on more gradually and usually includes a runny nose and a normal temperature.”

The organisation has urged everyone, especially those who fall in the at-risk group, to go for flu jabs, as: “Prevention is better than cure.”

The HSE has also advised that anyone suffering from the flu should rest, drink lots of fluids and take medicine such as paracetamol.

However, those at greater risk such as elderly people should contact their GP for further advice.

In an Instagram post that has since been deleted, professional fighter Conor McGregor revealed that he had been struck down by the Australian flu over the Christmas period.

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