Flu hits more than 155,000 Australians as it 'mutates'

THE flu hit Australia harder than it should have this year because the most common strain appears to have mutated since it was formulated into the vaccine, experts say.

The Australian reports more than 155,000 laboratory-confirmed cases have been recorded in the country this year, already 70 per cent more than the entire flu season last year.

Influenza Specialists Group head Paul Van Buynder said it appeared the H3N2 strain of influenza A had changed since the vaccine was formulated.

"There is some early suggestion that the H3N2 strain, which is so severe in the elderly, has drifted and is not working as well as the others," he said.

The number of flu cases has been highest among Australian aged 80 and over - as shown by a recent spate of deaths in aged-care centres - followed by children aged five to nine.

News Corp Australia

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