Ilford one of the only places in UK not to be hit by Aussie flu

Flu germs can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours. Picture: Peter Jordan/ PA

Flu germs can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours. Picture: Peter Jordan/ PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Ilford is one of four places in the UK not to have any reported “Aussie flu” outbreaks.

While the London Borough of Redbridge is an island of no confirmed cases, neighbouring boroughs, Havering, Newham and Barking and Dagenham have had infections according to flusurvey.org.uk.

The borough might not be completely in the clear however as two residents have reported symptoms of the H3N2 influenza strain.

Professor Paul Cosford, Medical Director, Public Health England said hospital admissions and GP visits for influenza have seen a sharp rise going into 2018.

These figures, however, are nowhere near as high as in 2008 and 2009 when the swine flu pandemic hit the UK.

“The vaccine is the best protection there is against flu, which causes on average 8,000 deaths a year – many of which occur in the winter months,” he said.

“The nasal spray vaccine last year reduced children’s risk of flu by 65per cent meaning they were less likely to spread it to relatives and others they come into close contact with.”

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Every winter there are a few strains circulating and Aussie flu or H3N2 is just one of them.

It is a virus that appears to cause more severe infections in young children and the elderly.

Most people will recover in about a week with a bit of bed rest, some paracetamol or ibuprofen and plenty of fluids.

But for some - the very old, very young or people with pre-existing health conditions - flu can be deadly.

If you are not eligible for the flu jab on the NHS than you can buy it from pharmacists and retailers such as Tesco, Boots and Superdrug from as little as £9.

A nasal spray vaccine can also be purchased for children.

A Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Group, (CCG) spokesman said there is a large number of patients at hospitals which is putting significant pressure on health services across the borough.

They are urging the public to only go to King George and Queen’s hospitals if absolutely necessary to ensure that the most unwell patients receive the treatment they need.

“If you require urgent medical advice or are unsure of where you should go for treatment, don’t hesitate to call NHS 111 who are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” a spokesman said.

Symptoms of flu include a high temperature above 38 degrees, aches, tiredness or exhaustion, loss of appetite and a sore throat or dry chesty cough.

The NHS recommend seeing your GP if symptoms don’t improve after seven days or if you are pregnant have a long-term medical condition or weakened immune system.

They also advised residents to book an appointment if you are over 65 or worried about your child’s symptoms.

However if you develop sudden chest pain, have difficulty breathing or start coughing up blood, call 999 or go to A&E.

There may have been no confirmed cases of Aussie flu in areas with an IG postcode but that is no reason to rest on your laurels.

Flu is very contagious and easily spread to other people and those infected are most likely to give it to others in the first five days.

Flu is spread by germs from coughs and sneezes, which can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours.

To reduce the risk of spreading flu wash your hands often with warm water and soap and use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze.

Bin used tissues as quickly as possible.

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