Belfast Telegraph

Teacher among four NI deaths linked to flu

By Victoria Leonard

The number of Northern Ireland people diagnosed with the flu group that includes the so-called 'Aussie Flu' strain has increased to 231, the Public Health Agency (PHA) has confirmed.

In the past week the flu virus claimed another life in the Province, with the total number of deaths during this year's flu season rising to four.

It is understood that the flu was a factor in the sudden death of 33-year-old Co Tyrone teacher Christopher Colhoun, who passed away on Monday after falling ill at the weekend.

It was not revealed which strains caused the deaths, and in its January health bulletin last week the PHA stated that "no excess mortality" has been observed here.

Last week, the PHA stated that there had been 185 cases of flu traced to the AH3 flu group, of which the A(H3N2) 'Aussie Flu' is one strain, between the start of the flu season in October and December.

However, in the first seven days of 2018 an additional 46 cases were confirmed in that flu group, bringing the total number here to 231. The majority of the cases (136) involved people aged 65 and over.

In total, there have been 715 confirmed cases of all types of flu in Northern Ireland in this flu season. Over half of these (378) were in the 65-plus age group.

The PHA says that flu detections increased slightly in the first week of 2018, with the AH3 and B strains predominating.

The A(H3N2) virus has been dubbed Aussie Flu, as it is the same strain that fuelled the worst flu crisis in Australia for two decades. The particular strain of H3N2 flu that is affecting the UK is similar to the type that Australians suffered during their last winter. The PHA has urged those who are eligible to get their flu vaccine.

Belfast Telegraph

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