Flu season now officially ‘an epidemic’ in Vienna

The number of people registered as 'flu victims in Vienna has jumped from 9,000 last week up to 11,400 this week making the illness officially an epidemic

Flu season now officially 'an epidemic' in Vienna
File photo: Flu vaccination. Joseph R Schmitt/US Navy

According to public health officials, the latest registrations from doctors in the Vienna region show that the current rate of influenza infections has now reached epidemic status, with more than 11,400 affected by the illness.

Fortunately, the flu hasn't shown signs of causing any deaths, but as usual very young infants and the elderly are at greatest risk if symptoms worsen.

In Lower Austria, around 2,795 cases have been reported.

The most popular strain is A-H3N2, a variant virus which normally circulates among pigs.  It's also found among some species of birds and other mammals.  Around 36,000 people die in the USA from a similar virus each year.

According to the US Centre for Disease Control, seasons where the H3N2 strain dominates are usually more severe, but are not as dangerous as the pandemic H1N1 which occurred in 2009.



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Precautions taken as bird flu spreads

Austrian Health authorities ordered on Thursday poultry farmers to keep all birds inside starting next week in an attempt to restrict the spread of bird flu.

Precautions taken as bird flu spreads
"What are you in for?" Photo: Paul Gillingwater

Neighbouring countries are seeing the contagion spreading, carried by wild birds which mix with poultry who are outside.

Some individual farms next to Lake Constance near the borders with Switzerland and Germany had already been instructed to keep poultry indoors, disinfect equipment more rigorously and avoid using open pools of water.

Now that Slovakia and Czech Republic are seeing cases, it's likely that the protection zones will be extended to cover the whole of the country, according to a spokesman from the Health Ministry.

In November, a turkey in Vorarlberg tested positive for one of the more virulent forms of bird flu.