A triple-whammy of potentially deadly flu viruses are causing worry this winter
What is the difference between Australian, French and Japanese flu?
Warnings around the so-called Australian, French and Japanese flu have been circulated to ensure people are taking precautions against contracting one of the viruses, with health officials in many countries urging people to get a flu vaccination.
The UK has seen 149 people die from flu, more than 50 have died in France, 30 have died in America and scores have passed away from the flu in Australia.
Australian flu is the moniker given to the H3N2 strain of the flu virus. That particular strain has claimed a number of lives and seen thousands seek medical help in Australia, with the young, elderly and those with pre-existing health condition suffering from being worst affected.
This category ‘A’ strain of influenza is Australia’s worst flu outbreak in nearly a decade.
Symptoms are similar to those caused by normal flu but are more severe. They include: sore throat, cough, headache, fever, muscular ache, tiredness, runny nose and sneezing.
As with other strains of flu, it can lead to potentially fatal pneumonia.
Japanese flu is officially known as B-Yamagata and is a ‘B’ strain of flu. This categorisation means it’s less serious than those in category ‘A’. Although the Japanese flu is less severe, it is more contagious and is particularly infectious for small children.
French flu is a collective nickname for a number of different types of flu circulating the European country.
"For the moment, there is not a single influenza virus that dominates, it is rather a mix of different strains. There are A viruses (H1N1 and H3N2), and cases of the B virus. For the moment it is less aggressive than last year, but we won't know for sure until a few weeks time," Dr. Sibylle Bernard-Stoecklin, from Santé Publique France, told Le Parisien.
Public health officials in France warned that flu has reached epidemic levels in every region of the country.
According to FranceInfo, nearly 11,500 people visited hospital or A&E with flu-like symptoms in the last week of 2017.
What is the difference between flu and a cold?
The flu is more severe than a cold and affects more than the nose and throat. Fever, fatigue and muscle aches are more likely with flu.
A cold develops gradually over one or two days and someone with a cold is most contagious during the early stages. Signs of recovery should be present within a few days, although some colds have been known to last up to two weeks.
Symptoms of the flu tend to appear one to three days after an infection is contracted. Even if most of the symptoms have gone, those who have had the flu will tend to feel tired for much longer.