Australia'So scary': Mother's dire warning as her one-year-old son is struck down with deadly mutated strain of the flu that vaccines CAN'T prevent
Influenza outbreak kills 37 Victorians, including hospital worker in state's east
James Day died from complications caused by influenza eight days after he was admitted to hospital in eastern Victoria. He is one of 37 people killed so far this year.
A deadly monster strain of the flu has mutated, which could potentially mean flu vaccines won't work to protect people against the virus.
Experts raised concerns as the deadly flu season continues to wreak havoc - with 228 Australians already killed and 120,000 catching flu so far this year.
Testing has shown the H3N2 strain of flu has mutated, according to the World Health Organisation Influenza Centre - with a one-year-old boy catching the virus.
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However doctors are still advising Australians to get vaccinated against other strains of the flu.
'On the surface of the influenza virus there are a couple of proteins called H and N,' Dr Penny Adams told Nine News.
She said pre proteins can sometimes change in small amounts, so vaccines are made to target those proteins.
But if the proteins change then vaccinations might not work as well.
'The flu vaccine we have all got this winter it is effective… (It) covers four strains. It is only one strain that has changed. (The vaccine) is still effective for the others.
Flu strain 'mutates' amid deadly season
A monster strain of the flu has mutated, making the vaccine potentially ineffective- but doctors are warning it's still essential to have, with 228 now dead from the virus.
'I give the analogy it is a bit like a seatbelt in a car. You can still have a car accident but if have got your seat belt on you will have more protection, less injuries.'
One-year-old Freddie Fields was recently diagnosed with mutated H3N2 after his parents rushed him to hospital when he was having trouble breathing.
'It was just a really awful experience - really, really scary,' his mother Natalie Fields said.
Results showed Freddie tested positive to Influenza A - the most common strain of flu. But he had the rarer A-sub type called H3N2.
Doctors still encourage people to get vaccinated, which could reduce the severity of the mutated strain, and will also protect against three other flu strains.
Dr Adams said even though it's 50 per cent effective it's better than no vaccine at all.
Australia's flu season typically hits its worst point between August and September, but this year it peaked months earlier.
'Kind, smart, beautiful' schoolgirl dies just days after falling ill with flu
Devastated family members have paid tribute Melbourne 13-year-old girl Crystal-Lee Wightley, describing her as a kind, caring, sports-loving teen. “Crystal was kind, smart, beautiful and had come backs that would make a room stop and then laugh,” family member Channi Gartland wrote in a post on Facebook. © Facebook Crystal-Lee Wightley was looking forward to her 14th birthday. “She was getting excited and counting down the weeks to her 14th birthday.” Ms Gartland wrote that Crystal-Lee had only became ill on Tuesday, after several other family members had been sick with the virus.
'Unfortunately for influenza, it's never 100 per cent and it does vary from year to year,' Professor Sharon Lewin said.
We make the best prediction of what that vaccine should look like, and sometimes it works much better than other years'.
On Tuesday, a two-year-old boy died in Perth after flu 'spread like wildfire' through his body.
Elijah Huynh had only just turned two when he caught a strain of the Influenza A virus and died at Perth Children's Hospital.
The boy's devastated family said the virus 'spread like wildfire' overnight, and they had no warning signs.
By the time they rushed to Karratha Health Campus, the virus had taken over Elijah's body and his organs began to shut down.
What you need to know about influenza and the flu vaccine
From keeping the virus away from others to understanding how immunisation works, GP Dr Preeya Alexander's shared the helpful tips on her Instagram page.
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The flu vaccine is not a complete prevention
While Dr Alexander, who goes by the name of The Wholesome Doctor, said the vaccine was still the best defence it did not mean you could not get the flu as there are many strains of it.
'I've had patients say 'I had the vaccine though'. It certainly reduces your chance of contracting influenza (flu) but it's not 100 per cent effective,' she said.
'The vaccine effectiveness varies year-to-year and sits around 40 to 50 per cent.'
The flu is fatal
There have been 57 flu-related deaths in New South Wales, but Victoria does not lag far behind.
'In Victoria alone this year 37 people have already died from influenza complications - the flu can be fatal,' Dr Alexander said.
The outbreak this year has been so stark that health experts in the UK have used Australia as an example to warn about an equally bad upcoming flu season in the northern hemisphere.
Don't 'soldier on' by going outside or to work if you have the flu
'If you are unwell with influenza like symptoms (fevers, muscle aches, lethargy, low appetite) please, please stay home,' she wrote.
Australia's horror flu season continues as death toll rises to 231 after the tragic death of 'perfectly healthy' 13-year-old girl - and experts say it's about to get worse
In Australia there has been about 121,000 cases of laboratory confirmed flu this season - which we are currently almost halfway into with the flu season typically running from May to September. Experts have said, however, that this year is proving to be unpredictable and there is likely to be a secondary peak later in the season that could see numbers jump higher again. 'We can be fairly confident that we will have two peaks,' University of Adelaide Professor Nigel Stocks told The Advertiser.
'Protect the community and stay away particularly from vulnerable people like infants, elderly people, pregnant women and those with asthma and immune system issues.'
The advice comes after the Department of Health warned that 'influenza and influenza-like illness is high for this time of year'.
Antibiotics won't work
Antibiotic-based medicines slow down or destroy the growth of bacteria, but Dr Alexander warned they do not work for viruses.
'Influenza is a viral illness so antibiotics will not treat it,' she said.
'For most patients treatment is supportive with rest, fluids and NO exercise - we encourage a graded return to exercise only once the symptoms have settled completely.
'Exercising when unwell is not recommended and can have serious complications.'
Watch your personal hygiene around others
The flu virus is passed by droplets from person-to-person and The Wholesome Doctor said we should all be responsible for our actions around others.
'Cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze and wash your hands,' Dr Alexander said.
'Hand hygiene is your greatest defence this cold and flu season.'
Tragedy as baby boy, one, is killed after being struck by a car on a driveway of a family home.
A baby boy has died in Liverpool Hospital after being after being hit by a car in the driveway of a Green Valley home in Sydney's south-west. Police are now investigating the fatality.
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