Northern Ireland churches ban handshakes as Australian flu spreads across UK

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"With influenza activity on the rise, individuals in these groups should take special precaution as we continue throughout the season".

Explaining his view that the impact of the Australian flu had been overstated, Oxford pointed out that the official figures showed cases were split between different strains.

Influenza, or the flu, is a viral infection of the respiratory tract and is spread by droplets released when infected people cough or sneeze nearby or when people touch surfaces or objects contaminated with those infectious respiratory droplets. It's unclear if the person received a flu vaccination.

Although children are more susceptible to serious illness from H3N2 than the general population, they are also particularly vulnerable to the "B" strain, possibly due to their lack of previous exposure, she said.

(Pixabay/paulbr75) The outbreak of H3N2 virus, commonly known as the Australian flu, has prompted churches in northern Ireland to ban handshakes. And you can keep infecting others with the flu up to five to seven days after you become sick.

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Flu shots are available at many locations, including the Vigo County Health Department.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone age 6 months and older get a flu vaccine each year.

"We know that the years when there are H3N2 strains that predominate, those are more severe years - meaning there are typically more infections, more severe infections, more hospitalizations and more deaths". Please go get your vaccine if you haven't already.

When it comes to combating the flu, Dr. Jessica Snowden says that vaccines are still your best option.

Cover: Cover your cough and sneeze into your arm or a disposable tissue. If soap and water aren't available to wash your hands, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

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Two Delawareans died from the flu in December.

The CDC has recommended three main antivirals: oseltamivir (sold under the brand name Tamiflu, ) zanamivir (Relenza), and peramivir, all of which the CDC says contain a strain of H3N2 which should be effective against this year's version.

In the meantime, Skowronski advises that people at risk for influenza complications, including the elderly and those with underlying heart and lung conditions, seek immediate medical attention if they develop flu-like symptoms so they can be treated with an antiviral medication to reduce their risk for hospitalization and death.

"Given the expectation of low vaccine effectiveness this season, especially for H3N2, that advice about getting early care for those with high-risk conditions applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated people", she said.

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