Health Wise: The facts about Aussie Flu
We’re still very much in the season for illness and absence in the workplace.
You may have spotted some news recently about a new strain of seasonal flu that’s circulating the UK at the moment.
Classified as strain H3N2, it’s also known as Australian or Aussie flu because it caused big problems in Australia and resulted in the country’s worst epidemic.
This super-charged virus has been grabbing headlines and causing alarm due to flu cases accounting for 22,000 visits to GPs, with 114 sufferers in intensive care.
Employees and employers are likely to be concerned about the potential spread of flu in the workplace. People are bound to have lots of questions about it, so we thought we’d try to answer a few.
How is Aussie flu different to regular flu?
Influenza A (H3NT), or Aussie flu, isn’t new, it was also around last winter.
Influenza viruses are given different names based on their type; A, B or C. A usually being the most serious. We’re actually seeing a mix of this and flu B at the moment.
Most people will recover from Aussie flu in about a week and won’t need any specific treatment.
Since this is a particularly strong strain, it can be dangerous to more vulnerable people.
For some – the very old, very young or people with pre-existing health conditions such as heart disease – it could prove deadly.
Is it getting worse?
The Public Health England (PHE) report published on February 8th, 2018 shows that seasonal flu continues to circulate across the UK, but that activity is stabilising.
Richard Pebody, Acting Head of the Respiratory Diseases Department at PHE said; “Rates of vaccination across all those eligible for the vaccine have increased on last season, and we have vaccinated an additional one and a half million people.”
How can you protect yourself?
If you’re eligible for the flu vaccine, you should get it. Although the end of the vaccine season is approaching, so it’s best to have it sooner rather than later.
Flu is very infectious and easily spread to other people. You’re more likely to give it to others in the first five days.
The best form of protection is through good respiratory and hand hygiene.
The ‘Catch It, Bin It, Kill It’ campaign sums up the best approach to take:
- Catch any coughs or sneezes in tissues
- Put all tissues in the bin straight away
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water
- Disinfect surfaces to stop the spread of flu
- Avoid unnecessary contact with other people if you or they have flu symptoms
Do you have Aussie flu?
Flu symptoms can come on very quickly and might include:
- fever (temperature above 38C)
- tiredness or exhaustion
- a dry, chesty cough
- a sore throat
- a headache
- loss of appetite
- tummy pain or diarrhoea
- nausea and being sick
If you think you are exhibiting any of these symptoms, visit your GP.
Offering support and advice to staff who are unwell is an important aspect of health and wellbeing in the workplace. If you’d like more information about how our occupational health services can help, contact our team today.