A Fianna Fáil TD has warned that the deadly Aussie fly virus could pose a serious threat to the Irish health system.
TD Billy Kelleher has expressed concerned that a spike in the virus will put pressure on our already "overburdened hospital system" and has warned Minister for Health Simon Harris to make sure all the necessary resources are in place.
"I am concerned that any significant increase in cases could pose a serious threat to our already overburdened hospital system.
"In the majority of cases, this flu, while serious, can be treated at home. However there will always be more severe cases, which will need acute medical intervention.
He added: “There are a number of hospitals across the country, whose Emergency Departments are at breaking point. If a predicted surge in serious flu cases comes to pass, these departments will struggle to cope.
"I am calling for assurances from Minister Harris and the HSE that we are fully prepared to deal with any possible outbreak, and that a management plan and resources are in place to control the situation”.
More than 170,000 cases of Aussie flu were been reported in Australia this season, while incidents in Ireland have continued to increase according to recent figures from the HSE-Health Protection Surveillance Centre.
Their latest report reads: "Most indicators of influenza activity in Ireland have continued to increase during week 50 2017 (week ending 17th December 2017).
"Influenza-like illness rates are above baseline levels and influenza positivity has increased.
"Influenza A(H3N2) and B are currently co-circulating in the community. It is now recommended that antivirals be considered for the treatment and prophylaxis of influenza in at-risk groups."
Health Minister Simon Harris said: “The advice from doctors is that most people who get the flu, unless they are in at risk group, can get better themselves at home.
"The HSE is advising that anyone who gets flu should stay at home, rest, drink plenty of fluids and use over-the-counter remedies like paracetamol to ease symptoms.
"Anyone in one of the high-risk groups should contact their GP if they develop influenza symptoms."
Also called H3N2, this vicious strain of the common winter bug presents similar symptoms but more severe, including headaches, fever, and a sore throat. Sufferers also complain of joint pain and fatigue.
It can be particularly dangerous for 'at-risk' groups and can lead to additional complications like pneumonia.
The vaccine in Australia hasn't been as affective as health specialists had hoped, since H3N2 is a mutated strain.
Flu symptoms, according to the NHS, come on very quickly and can include:
- a sudden fever – a temperature of 38C or above
- aching body
- feeling tired or exhausted
- dry, chesty cough
- sore throat
- difficulty sleeping
- loss of appetite
- diarrhoea or tummy pain
- nausea and being sick
The symptoms are similar for children, but they can also get pain in their ear and appear less active.
You can find out more information about Aussie flu here.