Austria ‘on threshold of flu outbreak’

Doctors are warning of the onset of a flu outbreak in Austria - with around 10,000 people reported to be suffering from the virus. There are also concerns that the vaccine may be less effective as the virus has mutated to avoid the immunity provided by the flu jab.

The main circulating flu virus this winter is influenza A type H3N2, which affects the elderly in particular.

The US Centres of Disease Control has warned that half of H3N2 viruses tested there were "drifted strains" which were different to the one protected by the flu jab.

"There has been a significant increase in flu and flu-like infections in Graz and Tyrol", the head of Vienna Medical University’s Virology Department, Franz X. Heinz, told the Austrian Press Agency. He said there had also been an increase of cases in Vienna, affecting the elderly, schoolchildren and teachers especially.

“Our data indicates that we are on the threshold of a flu outbreak,” he said.

Doctors can prescribe anti-viral drugs, which if taken shortly after the onset of symptoms (such as a high fever and body aches) can shorten the duration and severity of the virus. 


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