London, Dec 29 (ANI): Europe is under a huge threat of flu outbreaks as a deadly 'Australian' strain spreads across Britain, say experts.
According to the European Influenza Surveillance Scheme, the deadly strain that caused a severe epidemic and killed six children in Australia in last year is still spreading and is likely to exacerbate between January and March.
Britain, Bulgaria, Ireland and Spain are under 'medium intensity' flu attack, while in Portugal the strain has reached high intensity levels.
Flu levels have increased from 27 GP consultations about the disease per 100,000 of population in the first week of December to 68 consultations per 100,000.
"Moderate flu activity at this time of the season is normal and should not make us think that everything is over by Christmas," the Telegraph quoted Professor Koos van der Velden, former chairman of EISS, as saying.
"We fully expect the season to intensify soon and people should continue to receive vaccination through December and early January to protect themselves and their loved ones.
"This is most important for the elderly as they are particularly vulnerable to flu and its complications," der Velden added.
More than three quarters of over the elderly over 65 have already been vaccinated along with almost half of younger people suffering from long-term illnesses, such as cystic fibrosis.
"Flu has started earlier this year. We have had very little flu over the past few years and this year may be like 1999/2000 when figures were quite high," said a spokesperson for the Department of Health.
"The best protection against flu is to have the flu jab. If you are over 65 or in one of the at risk groups and have not had the jab this year, it's not too late. Contact your surgery to check if they still have supplies and make an appointment - it won't be too late even after Christmas.
"There are simple steps that everyone can take to help prevent catching colds and flu. Always use a tissue to catch your sneezes, throw away used tissues where germs can linger and regularly wash your hands," the spokesperson added. (ANI)