Does the dangerous H3N2 flu virus come to Germany?
English media are currently reporting a massive outbreak of the H3N2 flu virus. The media speak of the biggest wave of flu in recent decades. The virus is called "Aussie Flu" in English because it is the same strain that has caused major problems in Australia recently. 170,000 reported cases were reported there. The flu virus has already spread to almost all areas of the UK. English hospitals are under enormous pressure because the H3N2 virus is particularly dangerous and can cause severe flu cases, especially in the elderly, which can be fatal in the worst case.
In Ireland, the flu wave has already led to deaths and even the Catholic Church is trying to prevent the virus from spreading through preventive measures. In England, too, an increasing number of people in intensive care units had to be treated, according to the latest reports from Public Health England (PHE). Dorchester and the city of London are the last remaining places where no cases of the H3N2 flu virus have been reported. The National Health Service reports that the flu rates are already twice as high as last year.
Is the flu coming to Germany?
In Germany, the number of flu diseases increased slightly at the end of 2017. Up-to-date figures from the Robert Koch Institute are not yet available, but RKI spokeswoman Susanne Glasmacher gave the all-clear for "Focus online": "The flu course in another country does not allow any conclusions to be drawn about the course in your own country." A severe flu wave in an adjacent country does not have to mean that the pathogens spread to Germany. According to Glasmacher, the spread of a pathogen depends, among other things, on how many vaccinations there have been in the respective country.
What is H3N2?
Every winter, a few strains of H3N2 virus spread. It is an influenza A virus that can cause more serious infections in young children and the elderly. Most people will recover in about a week and don't need any special treatment other than bed rest and plenty of hydration. However, the virus is dangerous for very young or very old people and can even be fatal. People with previous health problems, such as heart disease, also belong to the risk group. The Standing Committee on Vaccination at the RKI advises elderly people with a weakened immune system and chronically ill people to be vaccinated against flu to prevent illness.
H3N2 virus occurrence in Germany
According to Glasmacher, there are currently very few H3N2 cases in Germany. Instead, a relatively large number of influenza B-type flu cases can be identified. The H3N2 virus was already the dominant representative of the flu in winter in Germany from 2015 to 2016. "The Australians inherited the flu from the northern hemisphere rather than the other way around," explains Glasmacher. (fp)