The NHS in England has been warned to organize for a busy winter following a “heavy” flu season in Australia and New Zealand.
Listed below are some questions answered by Andrew Easton, professor of virology on the College of Warwick.
Why has there been a foul flu season within the Southern Hemisphere?
The explanations for the excessive incidence of flu in Australia aren’t but clear. Flu is notoriously tough to foretell and lots of components play a job. Traditionally the incidence of flu adjustments so much from yr to yr so whereas there’s some concern on the excessive ranges seen in Australia it’s not attainable to say definitively why it has occurred. One issue that’s being investigated is the extent of vaccine uptake within the inhabitants: if that’s decrease than ordinary it might be an element – however it might solely be one issue.
Has anybody particularly been affected?
Flu is a severe illness however represents a specific threat for sure teams of individuals. These are the aged and anybody with a further predisposing situation resembling extreme bronchial asthma or different respiratory grievance – these people will be of any age. There is no such thing as a suggestion for the time being that one specific group has been affected greater than may be seen in any annual outbreak.
Are there any indications that the vaccine has not labored because it ought to?
There is no such thing as a suggestion of that for the time being and individuals are inspired to get a vaccination in the event that they haven’t already accomplished so.
Will the UK vaccine work?
There is no such thing as a motive for the time being to imagine that the vaccine won’t work. Nevertheless, it takes 10 days or so for the vaccine to supply safety and through that point the person remains to be in danger so getting the vaccine as early as attainable is essential.
The exact formulation for vaccines used within the Northern and Southern hemispheres will be totally different and that is designed to take account of the variation in flu strains that seem in these two areas.
The World Well being Organisation operates a surveillance programme to detect what strains are most probably to be round and vaccine producers observe this recommendation for his or her merchandise. The present vaccine accommodates materials to guard towards the 2 most prevalent influenza A and the 2 most prevalent influenza B strains most probably to be round within the winter. Sometimes the circulating strains have been discovered to vary a bit from these predicted however that’s not frequent and there’s at all times some degree of safety offered.
Why does a foul flu season in Australia and New Zealand imply that there might be one within the UK?
It doesn’t. Nevertheless the surveillance programme picks up these unusually excessive ranges and they’re taken as a warning that the actual strains round could characterize a higher problem than regular. Nevertheless, as indicated, this can be very tough to foretell the character of a future flu season by way of severity and so that is for the time being a “heads up” and never a prediction.
What can individuals do to organize?
The important thing factor is that folks ought to be made conscious of any points with flu if it develops. These notably susceptible to extreme illness ought to search recommendation about receiving a vaccination.
What can hospitals do to organize?
The primary impact won’t be seen on the hospital degree however in the neighborhood. Hospitals may have their regular procedures in place to supply vaccine to employees to assist make sure that they don’t seem to be affected and can make sure that their services might be in good condition to handle any subject. Nevertheless, because the incidence of flu is detected when it seems within the UK winter it’s going to develop into clearer what the true scenario is and what steps might be wanted to scale back the impression.