Deadly flu ‘epidemic’ threatens UK this winter as Aussie strain kills 147, top NHS doc warns – The Sun

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Deadly flu ‘epidemic’ threatens UK this winter as Aussie strain kills 147, top NHS doc warns – The Sun



A DEADLY flu “epidemic” could hit the UK this winter as an outbreak in Australia has killed 147 this year, a top NHS doctor has warned.
Figures show that there have been 94,000 confirmed cases of the virus in Australia since January – compared with just 12,000 in total last year.
1 A deadly flu epidemic could be on its way to the UK after Australia sees an outbreak of the virus, computer image of the influenza virusCredit: Getty – Contributor
Of those, 147 people have died yet at the same point in 2018, the number of deaths was 23.
The numbers are on par with cases normally seen in July and August during the height of the Australian flu season, according to HSJ.
Professor Brendan Murphy, Australia’s chief officer, has described it as “a very unusual early season and it has caught people a bit by surprise.”
Virus indicator
Britain’s flu season tends to mirror what happens Down Under, leaving experts fearing that the latest strain could reach the UK this winter.
Dr Taj Hassan, from the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said the Australian figures looked “very scary indeed”.
He said: “We struggled last year [in A&Es] in incredibly benevolent circumstances. I am not sure that is going to happen this year. It is very important that we prepare.
“Perhaps we need to start vaccination early and set aside some money.”
Dr Hassan said work was needed to improve vaccination uptake for healthcare workers and vulnerable groups.
He also expressed concerns over bed capacity warning that there should be robust planning so people aren’t stuck in corridors.
Dr Hassan added: “NHS England will really need to focus on how to provide clear ring-fenced extra resources for these people.”
Aussie flu
In 2017, Australia had its worst flu outbreak on record with the number of people needing hospital treatment double that of the previous year.
Some hospitals had standing room only as the H3N2 strain of the winter bug struck the country with more than 137,500 cases confirmed by the start of September.
Experts in Australia says this year’s surge in cases could be down to the fact that three strains of the virus are in circulation – influenza A(H1N1), influenza A(H3N2) and influenza B.
Professor Robert Booy, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Sydney, said this“certainly makes things worse”.
He also said immunity could be lower due to the quiet flu season in 2018.
Prof Booy told the Sydney Morning Herald: “We went from a very busy to a very quiet year, and as a consequence, as the virus mutates and changes the level of immunity in the community starts to fall off again, and therefore we may have a lot more susceptible people.”
‘Worrying signal for UK’
Deputy chief executive at NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery, said: “The spike in flu we are seeing in Australia could be a worrying signal of what is to come for health and care services this winter.
“Planning for vaccinations is based on what happens in the southern hemisphere.
“Based on what we are seeing we will need to make sure plans are put in place early and as resilient as they can be.
“This highlights the importance of planning for winter.
“Trusts are already working hard to improve vaccination uptake among staff, and will strive to improve this further.
“We must get immunisation rates as high as possible. We must also get our resilience plans in place as early as we can.”
What are the symptoms of flu?Flu symptoms come on very quickly and can include:

a sudden fever – a temperature of 38C or above
an aching body
feeling tired or exhausted
a dry cough
a sore throat
a headache
difficulty sleeping
loss of appetite
diarrhoea or tummy pain
nausea and being sick

The symptoms are similar for children, but they can also get pain in their ear and appear less active.
The flu vaccine reduces the risk of catching flu, as well as spreading it to others.
It’s more effective to get the vaccine before the start of the flu season (December to March).
Source: NHS UK

Public Health England said it is monitoring flu activity in Australia and urged people to get vaccinated this autumn.
Richard Pedbody, head of flu suveillance at PHE said: “We are monitoring closely, to see if the high levels of activity continue or if this early activity represents the peak for this season.
“What we’re seeing in Australia highlights the importance of anyone who is eligible taking up the offer of flu vaccine when the campaign launches later in the autumn.
“This includes front line health and social care workers to help protect the people they care for.”
It comes after a damning report revealed the number of people rushed to A&E with flu and pneumonia in the UK has rocketed by 58 per cent in four years.
The analysis of NHS data by health firm Dr Foster found that difficulty seeing a family doctor – particularly at weekends – is fuelling needless hospital admissions.

This past winter saw more than 2,000 people taken to intensive care for flu.
Flu claimed almost 200 lives from November to February, with younger adults and pregnant women worst affected.
Experts said it was unvaccinated patients who were most at risk.
Minister for Health Simon Harris appeals to public to get flu vaccine

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