A deadly flu virus has been killing around 100 people per week in the US since mid-December, The Independent reports that the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned. A report published by the CDC with the latest figures showed there were 759 flu deaths between 7 October and 23 December. It also said since early December more than 100 people were dying every week from the flu and the death toll could increase as there has been a further rise in the number of hospital admissions.
The report says this is more than double the number of flu deaths from the same period last year when there were only 322 reported fatalities.
An increase in the number of reported cases of the flu during the winter is common and usually peaks around Christmas and New Year when more people are travelling and spreading illness. But, the report says, this year’s prevailing strain H3N2 – which has been dubbed “Aussie flu” – is known to be particularly vicious and strong.
In the UK, 149 people have so far died and 4,500 people were hospitalised, according to Public Health England figures. Some 120 flu deaths have been recorded in England, 21 in Scotland and eight in Northern Ireland. There is no precise data available for Wales.
The report says the Catholic diocese of Down and Connor in Northern Ireland has temporarily banned its priests from shaking the hands of parishioners as they receive Holy Communion in favour of a “sign of peace” to avoid spreading the virus.
Meanwhile people are still being urged to get a flu vaccine to help protect vulnerable people. A letter sent to every GP practice in England has warned that up to 3m high risk patients had yet to have the jab.
The report says the flu virus mutates every year so even people who have had the vaccine in previous years need to be immunised against this latest strain.The Independent report