Public Health Agency

Influenza

Hospital admissions and GP visits for influenza (flu) have seen a sharp rise at the beginning of 2018; there has also been a sudden increase in the number of flu outbreaks in Care Homes across Northern Ireland. The number of detections of influenza viruses has also increased, with both influenza types A (H3N2) and B strains of the virus predominating. There has also been an increase in the number of flu detections on laboratory samples in people in hospital. The A (H3N2) flu strain has been referred to in the media as ‘Australian/Aussie flu’.

Flu is an illness caused by the influenza virus. It occurs every year, usually in winter.  Most people will recover from flu in about a week and won't need any specific treatment, apart from bed rest, some paracetamol or ibuprofen and drinking plenty of fluids. Flu symptoms usually peak after two or three days and you should begin to feel much better within five to eight days. However, older people or those with certain medical conditions may develop complications that can lead to serious illness and can be life-threatening.

Preventing the spread of the flu virus

It’s important to protect yourself and others by preventing the spread of the virus and getting the flu vaccine if you are eligible. The vaccine is designed to protect against the type of flu circulating in any given season; this year's flu jab is designed to protect against H3N2 as well as some other strains. You can take simple steps to stop the spread of the flu virus. Remember, you should always:

  • use tissues to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
  • dispose of the dirty tissues quickly
  • wash your hands regularly 
  • clean hard surfaces (such as door handles) frequently using your usual cleaning product

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