A deadly strain of the flu is expected to hit the UK this winter.
A&E units in Australian hospitals are overwhelmed as over 100,000 flu cases have been confirmed. The number of deaths due to the H3N2 strain are not yet released, but they’ll be the highest on record.
Professor Robert Dingwall warns that “It’s almost inevitable this will come to us”. This winter could be the worst since the Hong Kong 1968 flu pandemic, where over a million people died.
There are concerns about NHS hospitals coping with a severe flu outbreak this winter. Dr Taj Hassan, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine states “There are indications that the flu vaccine will not be as successful this year” He predicts that an extra 5,000 beds could be needed to cope with an outbreak.
H3N2 is due to viruses constantly mutating and becoming resistant to vaccines. The vaccine used in Australia has been unsuccessful, meaning there are many more cases and deaths this winter than in previous years.
The symptoms of this strain are similar to that of a cold, but much more severe and could leave sufferers bedridden. However most at risk are those over 65, young children, pregnant women, people with a weakened immune system and people with certain health problems such as diabetes or asthma.