A virulent strain of influenza, H3N2 has severely hit the UK this flu season. The number of patients combating the virus at one point rising by 78% in just a week, according to statistics from the Royal College of GPs.
The strain this is putting on an already stretched NHS is noticeable, and with Australian scientists revealing that their previous outbreak of H3N2 lasted for almost three months it is important to ensure that steps and precautions are made to help deal with symptoms and also prevent the spread of the virus.
How much has Aussie Flu spread?
Across the UK several areas are approaching what are classified as epidemic levels of H3N2. This equates to 108.9 cases per 100,000 doctor’s consultations, meaning the reach of this strain of flu is potentially massive.
Flu seasons are often difficult to predict, especially when different strains and mutations of the virus come to the fore.
The length of time the Australian scientists suggested an outbreak can last for can be an invaluable insight when ensuring health services are prepared for worst-case scenarios and a lengthy period of dealing with patients suffering with the illness.
This length of time also means the public in general need to be alert in order to avoid catching and spreading the virus themselves.
Being aware of the symptoms and understanding what is wrong can go a long way to helping treatment and also easing the potential burden on your GP’s surgery, at least initially.
According to the NHS symptoms of the flu can include:
- Sudden fever
- Temperature of at least 38C
- Stomach pain
Normally the symptoms are manageable, however the elderly, the very young, and people with underlying medical conditions, such as heart, lung or kidney disease, diabetes or a neurological disease – are the most at risk.
Dealing with flu
The symptoms of flu will often leave a patient feeling rotten.
It’s important if you’re suffering from the flu that you prioritise rest and keeping warm while taking paracetamol or ibuprofen to help keep your temperature down and help with coping with the aches and pains the flu can cause. You should also ensure you drink lots of fluids to help stave off dehydration.
A GP isn’t likely to prescribe antibiotics to treat the flu, the best way to prevent contracting flu is still a vaccination.
Aside from making yourself more resistant to the flu there are other preventative steps you can take to avoid contracting and spreading the flu virus.
The flu virus can live on hands and surfaces for up to 24 hours. It’s important to prevent the spread of germs from coughs and sneezes by washing your hands with soap and warm water.
If you can’t wash your hands when out in public, such as when you’re travelling on public transport, consider using an antibacterial hand gel.
You should keep in mind that while trying to avoid infection sometimes this will be inevitable, either through contact with the public or a family member. Following the necessary steps to aid recovery is important, but bear in mind that if symptoms persist, or your condition deteriorates that should seek the advice of your GP.
Content supplied by:
Shamir Patel is a pharmacist and director of leading online pharmacist www.chemist-4-u.com a website that provides the public with a range of treatments and medications for a variety of conditions. From cold and flu treatments, to hay fever and allergies to more sensitive conditions like hair loss and sexual wellbeing.