From Sydney with love Aussie flu strain 'all around us' By Chris Woodall Remember that flu shot you got last December? It's no good against the latest international virus to latch its evil self on our pure shores. From Australia with love, it's the A/Sydney influenza. So-called because the strain of the virus was first identified in Sydney last June; vaccine shots available here last fall did not include it. "You're surrounded," says Dr. Paul Martiquet, medical health officer with Coast Garibaldi Community Health Services Society. Cases of A/Sydney have been reported elsewhere, but not in Whistler as yet, Martiquet says. Flu season is once again raging, as it was at this time last year. Doctors in B.C. are telling the B.C. Centre for Disease Control that they are getting flu cases in 3.09 per cent of doctor visits. "This represents a significant three-fold increase in rates for this time of year when compared with previous years," says a bulletin from health services society director of public health Margaret Antolovich. "The biggest danger from influenza is that it wears down your body to fight other infections that you may have while you still have the flu," says Martiquet. Flu gets around. It can spread from touching the infected person, handling articles infected with mucous from the person's nose or throat, or simply breathing infected air. Wash your hands a lot, don't share food or drinks, avoid rubbing your eyes and nose and if you are the carrier, avoid infants and high risk adults. The Sydney strain is highly contagious and has the same characteristics as other flu strains. Fever can last up to four days, but body fatigue may last three to four weeks. A person can be contagious even before symptoms appear and for a week beyond that. You know you've become one with the flu bug if you have fever and/or chills, respiratory things like a cough and sore throat as well as aches and pains. And if you can swing it, get some Amantadine, said by one bulletin to be 70-90 per cent effective in preventing illness caused by influenza A viruses, including the Sydney strain.