Cold Weather Helps Strain Flu Immunity; Each Year, Different Strains of Influenza Cause Varying Rates of Illness throughout the Community. So What Strains Are around This Year and What Kind of Protection Is Offered by Seasonal Influenza Vaccines? ROBERT BOOY, Professor and Head of Clinical Research at the University of Sydney's National Centre for Immunisation Research, Explains:

Sunshine Coast Sunday (Maroochydore, Australia), August 5, 2012 | Go to article overview

Cold Weather Helps Strain Flu Immunity; Each Year, Different Strains of Influenza Cause Varying Rates of Illness throughout the Community. So What Strains Are around This Year and What Kind of Protection Is Offered by Seasonal Influenza Vaccines? ROBERT BOOY, Professor and Head of Clinical Research at the University of Sydney's National Centre for Immunisation Research, Explains:


IS THIS year's flu season worse than usual?

Diagnostic laboratories in most states have reported higher rates of influenza notifications than the previous two years, so it's the worst since 2009.

We suspect two reasons for this: first, with cooler and colder weather, people have spent more time indoors with others and have therefore been more likely to pass on infections.

Secondly, the main strain this winter is no longer H1; it's H3.

This strain has been quiet for a couple of years, meaning there's likely to have been some fall-off in background immunity from past infection.

There's also been some mutation a changes to the structure of the H3 a so the antibodies people have are less effective.

You're most at risk of influenza when you're very young or very old.

Young children and babies are most likely to be hospitalised and people over the age of 75 are most likely to die from influenza.

On average each year there are about 2500 deaths from influenza in Australia, mainly the elderly.

The H3 strain of flu is more severe than the other two strains (H1 or B) but all three can be deadly.

The H1 strain, which arrived as a new pandemic in 2009, affected people under the age of 60 because they didn't have past exposure to H1 and had limited cross-protection from previous infection.

So we had much more infection in younger people. …

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Cold Weather Helps Strain Flu Immunity; Each Year, Different Strains of Influenza Cause Varying Rates of Illness throughout the Community. So What Strains Are around This Year and What Kind of Protection Is Offered by Seasonal Influenza Vaccines? ROBERT BOOY, Professor and Head of Clinical Research at the University of Sydney's National Centre for Immunisation Research, Explains:
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