Flu is near epidemic levels in some parts of the UK with cases surging 150% in two weeks – as the Japanese strain dominates.
Public Health England data shows that York has already hit epidemic levels, in the worst flu season for seven years.
If current trends continue, an epidemic will be declared across England within a fortnight, the Telegraph reports.
The NHS has been criticised for failing to vaccinate against Japanese flu (the B-Yamagata) strain, after 61% of the 4,500 cases admitted to hospital last week were suffering from it.
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Dr Nick Scriven, President of the Society of Acute Medicine said: ‘It’s very clear that Japanese flu is pushing up admission rates, and having a major impact on intensive care units – it can be really nasty.’
Also known as the Yamagata flu, the Japanese strain is influenza B – so it has less severe symptoms, but spreads more easily.
Influenza B strains can only spread from human to human, not between humans and animals, and are less likely to cause epidemics.
Dr Steve Iley, Medical Director for Bupa UK told the Evening Standard, ‘Japanese flu is easily spread amongst children as their immune systems excrete more of the virus. Likewise, their hand washing and personal hygiene is less thorough, making them ‘super spreaders’, and helping Japanese flu spread more quickly than Australian flu.”
‘Also known as Yamagata flu, Japanese flu is a strand of influenza. Symptoms are similar to other flu and may include a high temperature or fever along with coughing, sneezing and a runny nose. People can also experience muscle aches and pains along with exhaustion and fatigue.
‘Symptoms will typically last for up to one week, but you can speed up your recovery by getting plenty of rest, while staying warm and hydrated. Ibuprofen or paracetamol can also help manage the aches and pains.’