Dumfries and Galloway has been highlighted by the media as a hotspot for infection with the strain, which has been dubbed “Aussie flu” due to the problems it has caused in Australia recently.
Elaine Ross from Dumfries and Galloway’s infection control team suggests that the region may simply have been one of the first areas to be exposed to the virus, as it spreads through the rest of the UK. The team are now awaiting information from Health Protection Scotland about how Dumfries and Galloway compared with other regions.
My sense is that it's crept up from England, so I think it's going to be a 'temperature' which is going to rise all over Scotland. The 'Aussie flu', H3N2, is the same strain that was circulating last year and is not unusual.”
Elaine Ross, Dumfries and Galloway’s infection control team
These viruses are easily spread between groups of individuals when people congregate. This is the case over the festive season, says Ross, and many people have been admitted to hospital with flu A and B, including the H32N strain. The decision to move people to single bedrooms at the new Dumfries Infirmary prevented the infection spreading from one patient to another.
Ross also advised that anyone who has received a flu vaccination has a good chance of avoiding being infected, as they should develop immunity to the H3N2 strain.
The health board has recommended that anyone suffering from flu takes pain killers to relieve pain symptoms, stays well hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids and follows the “Catch It, Bin It, Kill It” message: “If you are coughing, make sure you have plenty of paper tissues with you, and make sure you throw those away properly and then use alcohol hand rub – which works very well in helping to prevent the illness being spread."
Ross also reminded people that it is not too late to receive the vaccine and that this can be obtained through pharmacies.