Killer Aussie flu heading to UK could be 'worst in 50 years'

Patient receiving fly jab - Credit: David Cheskin/PA Wire
Patient receiving fly jab - Credit: David Cheskin/PA Wire
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The dreaded Aussie flu will 'inevitably' hit Britain and could be the 'worst in 50 years', a health expert has warned.

Sheffield is now bracing itself for flu after a mother-of-two became the latest victim of the epidemic currently sweeping Australia.

Jennifer Thew passed away last weekend after an alleged week-long battle with the virus which contracted alongside her seven-year-old daughter Estella.

The Canberra medical receptionist died from acute respiratory distress syndrome.

Robert Dingwall, a public health expert at Nottingham Trent University, has now claimed that the bug will soon spread to the UK.

Speaking to the Daily Express, he said: "Based on the Australian experience public health officials need to meet and urgently review emergency planning procedures.

"Public Health England should be working with local authorities and local health services to ensure more hospital beds are freed up. We need to be prepared, alert and flexible.

"There is no point in trying to close the borders. It’s almost inevitable this will come to us.

"This is potentially the worst winter since the Hong Kong flu outbreak of 1968.

"Lots of people have been very badly affected in Australia and whilst their mortality rates are not out yet we suspect this is a more severe strain than most other years."

The Hong Kong flu pandemic killed an estimated one million people worldwide.

The news comes as a new study claims that being in a good mood when you get a flu jab could boost its effectiveness.

A team from Nottingham University looked at the moods, physical activity, diet and sleep of a group of 138 older people who were due to have their flu jab in 2014-15.

Measurements were taken three times a week over six weeks. They examined how well the jab was working by measuring the amount of influenza antibody in the blood at four weeks and 16 weeks after the jab.

They saw a link between having a positive mood, how well the jab seemed to work and higher levels of antibody, according to the study in the journal Brain, Behaviour and Immunity.

Estimates suggest that flu vaccines may only be effective in 17-53% of older adults compared to 70-90% of younger people.

Professor Kavita Vedhara, of the university's primary care division, said: "Vaccinations are an incredibly effective way of reducing the likelihood of catching infectious diseases. But their Achilles heel is that their ability to protect against disease is affected by how well an individual's immune system works.

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