Birmingham 'Red Zone' for Aussie Flu Outbreak | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Birmingham ‘Red Zone’ for Aussie Flu Outbreak

According to Public Health England, the number of people admitted to intensive care because of influenza almost doubled between December 28th and January 4th, which is heavily linked to ‘Aussie Flu’

Officially named H3N2, ‘Aussie Flu’ has caused 300 deaths in Australia with 17,000 reported cases, although PHE have said it is not yet known if the UK will be hit as badly as the Oceanian country. However, on January 10th Birmingham was declared a ‘red zone’ where people are more likely to be affected by this A-strain influenza virus.

The virus - which has caused Australia’s worst flu season in a decade - puts young children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing medical conditions at the highest risk; while this year’s flu vaccine is designed to protect against ‘Aussie Flu’, PHE estimate that it is only 40% to 60% effective as the virus can mutate throughout the season.

However, according to the BBC, this year’s flu admission statistics are not anomalous when compared to previous winters, and are considerably lower than during the Swine Flu epidemic. While the reported figures do not seem too extensive, Oxford University’s Professor Peter Horley told the Daily Mail that ‘Generally H3N2 (‘Aussie Flu’) tends to be a bit more severe than the H1N1 (Swine Flu) in 2009.' Additionally, Professor Robert Dingwall of Nottingham Trent warned that ‘the reports from Australia suggest the UK might be in for the worst winter flu season for many years’.

In the last three weeks, Birmingham has seen 38 cases of influenza-like illnesses, although not all of these are linked to ‘Aussie Flu’. The symptoms are very similar to the more common strain of influenza, though tend to be more serious. This is to be expected from an A-strain flu, as that is the most serious type of the virus, with C being the least problematic. However, the BBC suggest that those who are not in the high-risk groups will be able to recover without any specific treatment in about a week if they do catch the virus.

The outbreak of H3N2 comes as the Labour Party attempt to force a vote for extra funding to help the NHS cope with an ‘appalling winter crisis’. Prime Minister Theresa May was forced to apologise for the cancellation of 55,000 non-urgent operations to free-up hospital capacities for more immediate treatments. Doctors from 68 UK hospitals have written an open letter to the government, stating that ‘the NHS is severely and chronically underfunded’.

First-year History student | Regular News contributor (@tomleaman98)


26th January 2018 at 9:00 am

Last Updated

26th January 2018 at 9:59 pm

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Tony Hisgett