AUSSIE flu has already caused a number of deaths in Ireland after sweeping through Australia.

The H3N2 strain - dubbed Aussie flu - saw the country experience its worst flu season in nearly a decade.

After a recent rise in cases in the UK, the NHS is preparing itself for a bad flu season.

Worcestershire is currently blue on the Flu Survey heat map with 57 cases of flu-like symptoms reported in the last three weeks.

A spokesman for the Worcestershire Acute NHS Trust said: "We have seen an increase in the number of reported cases of flu across our hospitals over the past week, consistent with the national trends reported by NHS England.

"At Worcestershire Royal, we had recorded 36 cases of patients with flu-like symptoms in the past seven days.

"We continue to encourage those who have flu-like symptoms to stay away from our emergency departments and to take appropriate rest in bed until symptoms improve.

"We encourage the public to visit their local pharmacy for advice and information. Pharmacists are trained to help people treat themselves for many common conditions, such as colds, flu, stomach bugs and aches and pains, which can be especially common when the temperature drops.

“We have achieved our target for staff flu vaccinations, but are continuing to encourage colleagues and eligible members of the public who haven't yet had their jabs to do so as a matter of urgency.”

If you are wondering whether you have Aussie flu or whether you can get a jab, here is everything you need to know:

What is so different about Aussie flu?

The UK is seeing a mix of flu types circulating including influenza B as well as the H3N2 strain.

The H3N2 strain was circulating last year so it’s not new.

Aussie flu has affected up to 170,000 people in Australia - more than two-and-a-half times last year's total - with over 300 reported to have died.

How serious is the flu?

If you’re in good health, you should be better within a week or so. Rest, some paracetamol or ibuprofen, plenty of water and staying warm will all help.

Flu is very serious for those less able to fight or cope with the virus.

It can make pre-existing conditions much worse – particularly asthma and diabetes – and does lead to a number of deaths each year, particularly the elderly.

What should I be looking out for?

The main symptoms of Aussie flu are a sore throat and cough, headache, fever, muscle ache, fatigue and a runny nose and sneezing.

Can the flu be avoided?

The best way to protect yourself is to get a vaccination.

You should also wash your hands regularly, cover your mouth and nose with tissues when you cough or sneeze and regularly clean surfaces to get rid of germs.

How do I get a flu jab?

The NHS provides free flu jabs for those who are at the most risk – particularly the over-65s and those with long-term health conditions.

It also recommends that those who’ve had a stroke, people on medication that affects their immune system and those that are the main carer for an older or disabled person should get a jab.

Pregnant women are also eligible for a free jab.

A flu nasal spray is available to two and three-year-olds and some children at primary school.

Front-line health and social care workers are also eligible to receive the flu vaccine.

If you are unsure or concerned, speak to your GP.

Can I get a jab if I’m not eligible for a free one?

If you are not eligible for a free jab, you can pay for one privately.

It is best to check with your local pharmacy to see where they are available.

I had a flu jab last year, do I need another one?

Yes. Whilst one jab may be enough to fight an illness for the rest of your life, it is not the case with a flu virus.

The virus is constantly changing so a new vaccine is developed each year.

To stay one step ahead of the virus, you need to have a jab every year.

It is also worth knowing that whilst a vaccine is the best form of protection, there are still many flu viruses and 100% protection is not guaranteed.

If the symptoms persist or worsen, contact your GP.