GPs in England have reported a massive rise in the number of flu cases in the last week, up 78 percent on the week before, with one of this year’s main strains, H3N2, being dubbed Aussie flu because of the problems it caused in Australia during the summer.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies is among those who have written to NHS staff urging them to get vaccinated as soon as possible to reduce the spread of the virus.
Now the United States is bracing itself for for similar difficulties, with public health officials confirming that this year’s flu season was turning into a “moderately severe” one, according to the New York Times.
Dr Daniel B Jernigan, director of the influenza division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said about 80 per cent of reported cases were of the H3N2 strain, which has a higher mortality rate among the very young and very old than the milder H1N1 variant.
Dr Jernigan said: “H3N2 is a bad virus. We hate H3N2.
“Flu is everywhere in the US right now.
“The season started early and it is probably peaking right now.
“In the last week, the CDC has seen a spike in flu-related visits to doctors’ offices that report to the CDC.
“What we can see is a very rapid increase in the numbers of people coming in to see their healthcare providers,” Dr Jernigan said.
The rate of hospitalisations for laboratory-confirmed cases of flu doubled last week, rising to 22.7 hospitalisations per 100,000 people, up from 13.7 the prior week.
Seven children died from the flu in the United States last week, bringing the total pediatric flu deaths reported to the CDC this season up to 20.
Dr Jernigan said the current flu season was “on the severe side,” but said it does not seem to be as severe as the 2014/2015 flu season, also driven by an H3N2 virus, during which the hospitalisation rates were double what he was currently seeing.
The current flu vaccine appears to be about 30 percent effective against this year’s…