Flu season starts early in Austria

The Local Austria
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Flu season starts early in Austria
Hot lemon with honey can help alleviate symptoms. Photo: J.H./Flickr

The flu season has hit Austria unusually early this winter - meaning thousands of people will be confined to their beds over the Christmas weekend.


The Department of Virology at the Medical University of Vienna announced earlier this week that there has been a significant increase in the number of people with influenza viruses and a clear increase in new cases of viral influenza.

The capital, Vienna, has been worst hit, with around 9,000 people registering sick with their doctors and workplaces last week. The actual number is probably higher as many people will not have visited or called their GP.

The costs of antiviral medications that can alleviate the symptoms of flu and shorten the duration of the illness are being covered by health insurance companies.

This year the influenza virus subtype A(H3N2) is dominant. It’s one of the strains which is covered by the flu vaccine. The flu vaccination is the best way to prevent influenza, and antiviral drugs are the second line of defence to treat the flu if you do get sick. Experts expect a significant increase in the number of people falling ill with the flu in the next few weeks.

Influenza has also erupted in other parts of Europe, including Portugal, France, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands and Croatia. 

Regular hand washing with soap and water is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of viral infections, as well as avoiding close contact with people who are sick, and staying at home and resting when you yourself are sick. Covering your mouth when you cough and using a tissue when you sneeze also helps prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses.

For most healthy people, influenza will go away in five to seven days. The worst symptoms usually last three to four days.

Consider seeing your GP if you’re at higher risk of becoming more seriously ill, including if you are 65 or over, pregnant, have a lung, heart, kidney, liver or neurological disease, diabetes or a weakened immune system.

If you’re otherwise healthy you can look after yourself by staying at home, resting, keeping warm and drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Paracetamol or anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen can reduce a fever and relieve aches and pains.  




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