IRELAND could be on the brink of the deadliest flu outbreak in ver 50 years, according to stark warnings from medical experts.
The warnings come in light of the news that the first flu deaths have been recorded in the country as the much talked about ‘Aussie flu’ continues to spread.
Up until last week there had been no reported deaths from flu this winter period, but the Health Service Executive has now confirmed that they have been notified of a small number of deaths which are directly related to the flu.
Flu cases have led to 73 hospitalisations so far this winter, 19 of which occurred last week. It has now been confirmed for the first time that lives have been lost.
The Aussie flu has been cited as the main strain posing a risk in Ireland.
The main strain posing a risk is the A (H3N2), which was also circulating in Ireland last winter. It was blamed for a huge outbreak in cases during the Australian winter, earning it the name ‘Aussie flu’.
Cases of swine flu and the B strain have also been detected.
The HSE is urging people in high-risk groups to get the flu vaccine. The elderly and others with compromised immune systems are at particular risk.
The ‘Aussie flu’ is a mutated strain, meaning the vaccine in Australia has been less effective than anticipated. The HSE has confirmed that the vaccine here should be “a moderate to good match” and encouraged people to get the jab.
Since Christmas, GP services in Ireland are being put under massive pressure as a result of the number of infections.
Ireland is facing a rise in those hospitalised with flu, and a number of breakouts in nursing homes.
Medical experts have indicated that this could be the early stages of the most serious flu epidemic since the 1968 pandemic that began in Hong Kong and killed a million globally.
People in ‘at risk’ groups can get the flu vaccine itself free of charge, whereas people without medical or GP visit cards may be charged an administration fee.