The flu is wreaking havoc across the globe, but Australia’s warm weather and a lack of heat is one of the things that’s keeping many people away from the hot and humid city.
We’ve all seen that viral pictures of people being cold in the chill of the night, and it can make the cold feel like you’ve been hit by a meteorite, says the ABC’s Fiona McManus.
“We’ve seen the same thing with cold weather in Melbourne, in the north-west, in Brisbane, in Sydney and Melbourne, it’s just really not conducive to a good health experience,” she says.
Fruit salad and chips are another common foodstuff being used as a way of coping with the flu, but the ABC understands many Australians still choose to avoid eating them, and there is evidence that some people who don’t feel well are more likely to feel ill later in the flu season.
The ABC’s Fergus MacLean visited a Sydney cafe to talk to a couple who were struggling to cope with the cold and flu.
They had just come back from a family visit to Australia, and were just trying to get through it, they said.
I’ve got to go back and get a bite to eat, they say.
But Fiona McMANUS: “So how much is a bite?”
They said, we’ve got a lot of fruit salad, a lot in the fridge, and a lot on the side, but we’re only going to eat two or three of them.
So they’re getting the flu.
So the question is, how much fruit salad do you need?”
Fiona McMANus: “The question is how much are you getting in your diet?”
So you’re going to be eating a lot more fruit salad?”
Dr Jennifer McManu from the National Institute of Health and Medical Research says there’s a reason for this.
What’s going on is that our immune systems have been trained to recognise the flu virus and that’s been working, she says, “by telling the immune system to attack that virus, rather than the other way around”.
She says we can’t rely on what we see on the news to make us better at catching the flu in the future.
“What we know about influenza is that it’s very infectious,” she said.
“We know that the flu viruses are spreading across the world and the people who are infected tend to be older and more vulnerable to the illness, so we can also see that influenza can spread very quickly through people who haven’t been exposed to the virus, so it’s a much more likely event for older people to be infected.”
So we also know that there are very low risk people in particular, who are at low risk and can get vaccinated for the flu.
“The key, she said, is to focus on your own personal health and not worry about the health of others.
She advises people to try and stay healthy for their own health and their partner’s.
Health warning: Influenza can cause serious illness.
Avoid the flu if you can.
Dr Jennifer MacLean: “What we also can’t say is how long the virus will stay in your system, but I do think we have to be very aware of the fact that there is this very high rate of influenza infections in older people, and so you can’t assume that this virus will be going on for a long time, but it’s not very likely.”