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Aussie Flu - Statement following enquiry received

From: Anna Brehaut, Guernsey Press

Date: 2nd January 2018

Subject: Aussie Flu


I wondered whether the Medical Officer of Health would be issuing any advice about Aussie Flu? Are there any plans to open up a vaccination programme against the flu strain in the island? What can people do if they are going to/returning from Australia?

I understand a number of people have died in Ireland from the flu strain.


Dr Brink, Acting Medical Offer of Health / Director of Public Health responds as follows:

The 'Aussie flu' is caused by the H3N2 subtype, which is a strain of influenza A.

Our advice is that all Islanders use simple prevention tactics. This relates to practicing good hygiene, which includes washing your hands regularly with soap and water, using tissues to cover your mouth when you sneeze, putting used tissues in the bin as soon as possible and regularly cleaning surfaces such as keyboards, phones and door handles. An easy example of this is the "Catch it, Bin it, Kill it" campaign - when you cough or sneeze, catch it in a tissue, bin the tissue, and then wash your hands after.

The current vaccine includes the H3N2 subtype of the virus and we estimate that it is in the region of 40 - 60% effective. Influenza vaccines also reduce the risk of getting severe influenza. People need to get their influenza vaccine every year as the influenza virus is constantly changing. Therefore, yearly influenza vaccination is strongly recommended, especially for those people at risk of complications or who may transmit influenza infection to others who may be at increased risk of complications.

Most people recover with rest and drinking plenty of fluids and use of paracetamol for relief of pain and fever. Anti-viral medicines may also be prescribed for patients in "clinical atā€risk groups" as well as any who are at risk of severe illness and/or complications from influenza if not treated.

The UK reported a significant increase in the number of patients attending their GP's with 'flu-like' illness in the week beginning the 19th December. However, on-going surveillance in Guernsey indicates that the numbers of cases in Guernsey are similar to 2016 for the weeks of the 18th and 25th December 2017. However, we will continue to monitor the situation closely as we may lag behind the UK. Information that we have from local isolates show that the majority of our cases to date, for this season, have been caused by influenza B, and not the H3N2 subtype of Influenza A.

We will continue to keep the situation under careful review and would encourage any Islander who is concerned to contact their GP.


Issued by:

Joel De Woolfson