Australia's killer flu virus mutates

Influenza A has authorities worried as its subtype H3N2 evades the flu jab by mutating and evolving.

A highly-mutating and fast evolving strain of the flu has killed at least 73 people in Australia in 2017 but that figure is likely to be much higher, according to the Department of Health.

WHICH STRAIN OF THE FLU IS IT?

- H3N2 (H3) which is a sub-type of Influenza A

- H3 affects older people more often

HOW HAS THE FLU AFFECTED AUSTRALIA

- 132,732 cases of influenza have been laboratory confirmed.

- In Victoria eight residents died in August after contracting Influenza A at St John's Retirement Village in Wangaratta.

- In Tasmania, six residents died in August during an outbreak of the flu at Uniting Agewell's facility at Strathdevon.

TRANSMISSION

- breathing in droplets or small particles when people cough or sneeze.

- touching the nose, mouth or eyes after touching a contaminated surface.

- People can be infectious from 24 hours before to one week after the symptoms first appear.

- death from influenza can occur from pneumonia or the worsening of a person's current medical condition.

SYMPTOMS

- lasts for about five to eight days

- sore throat, headache, high fever, chills, cough (usually dry), chest heaviness and fatigue.

THE FLU JAB

- only provides a 30 to 50 per cent chance of protection against the flu, according to Monash University Professor Allen Cheng.

(Details sourced: Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Australian Government Department of Health, Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, National Centre for Immunisation Research.)

Source AAP

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