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Feared Aussie strain took hold over Christmas, leading to more hospital overcrowding

03 January 2018

According to Dr. Naveed Mohammad, vice president of medical affairs at William Osler, a hospital system in Peel region, the week of December 17 to December 23 saw nearly twice as many confirmed flu cases in the GTA than in the previous week.

She said they usually see it more of strain A at the beginning of flu season and then drifts more toward strain B but everything has come in a little earlier this year - in 2014, 2015 and 2016 the increase in patients didn't hit Conway until late January. As of September 2017 there were more than 137,500 reported cases of flu in Australia, according to news.com.au, which was more than double the number of cases from the year before.

The H3N2 virus was blamed for one of Australia's worst ever flu outbreaks past year.

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Area health specialists say it's too soon to say how bad this year's flu season will be. And while many of those infected with the flu experience the classic symptoms - fever, chills, body aches, cough and runny nose - the elderly and the very young, as well as pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems can be put at risk of serious complications, including death. The cost of the standard flu shot, unless you have Medicaid, Medicare, Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield, Child Health Plus or Fidelis is $55.

Antiviral drugs (which require a doctor's orders) won't totally cure the flu, but they can make symptoms milder and shorter, and they are especially effective if taken in the first 48 hours of illness onset. Moreover, most viruses separated from patient tissue samples have been related to the Yamagata lineage, not the Victoria lineage in vaccines being used this season.

Director of Health Protection Surveillance Centre, Dr. Kevin Kelleher, said: "Most people, unless they are in at risk group, can get better themselves at home".

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The HSE admitted that it is "preparing for the possibility of this being a busier flu season". Randy Bergen, clinical lead for Kaiser Permanente's flu vaccination program in Northern California.

As with any flu, the Australian flu is highly contagious and can spread quickly. Sick rooms can be shared with others who are sick and in households with more than one bathroom, sick people should use one while well people use the other.

As a result the health board are asking patients to help prevent the spread of flu and only essential visits will be allowed at the Maelor at this time. During the past two seasons, Arizona did not reach widespread activity until February. Those who were vaccinated and still get the flu are "less likely to have the complications of pneumonia, having to be hospitalized and dying", said Schaffner.

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Brendan Flannery, an epidemiologist in the CDC's flu division, said that "the important thing for people to know is that we think that the flu vaccine will prevent some illness that's caused by the current circulating viruses". The Health Department offers the vaccine at their offices at 2300 East Grand River in Howell during Wednesday clinics. Those 18 years of age and older may also be able to get their influenza vaccine at a local pharmacy.

Feared Aussie strain took hold over Christmas, leading to more hospital overcrowding