Aussie flu: Is deadly virus set to return? How to protect against new influenza strains

Aussie flu – the nickname given to the H3N2 strain of the influenza virus – was one of the main strains of flu which spread throughout Britain last year. The symptoms of the virus are similar to those of normal flu but described as more severe. These include sudden fever, a dry, chesty cough and an aching body. To those who are considered more at risk, such pregnant women, elderly and young children, the illness can result in serious complications.

So should we be bracing ourselves for Aussie flu’s return? Dr Andrew Thornber, chief medical officer at Now Patient, gave his verdict to Express.co.uk.

He said: “Every winter there are a few strains circulating and Aussie flu or H3N2 was just one of them that appeared in 2018. It was an influenza A virus.

“It is not possible to predict which types will appear in the future.”

If Aussie flu does return this year, what can you do to prevent getting it?

The advice is the same as with most flu strains, according to Dr Thornber.

He said: “If you’re invited for a flu jab, make sure you take it up.

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“The flu vaccine may not protect against this Aussie Flu, because viruses often mutate between when the virus is engineered and when infection happens (this is always the case, regardless of subtype of flu and vaccine given), but it certainly will give you a fighting chance.”

There are also a number of preventative methods you can take on a day-to-day basis.

Dr Thornber advised: “The best ways to keep free of it and avoid spreading it are hand washing, avoiding others/crowded spaces (and GP waiting rooms).

“If you’re travelling on public on public transport, wear a scarf over your mouth.

“Also eat a healthy diet full of lots of fruit and vegetables, don’t drink alcohol, keep fit and exercise, get plenty of sleep, don’t smoke, take vitamins and try and limit stress.”

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