PATIENTS turning up at Bradford and Airedale hospitals with influenza-type symptoms are being swabbed for the deadly Australian flu virus.

Dr Philip Stanley, infection prevention boss at Bradford Teaching Hospitlas NHS Foundation Trust has confirmed it has been treating patients with a similar strain to Aussie flu.

“We can confirm that we are seeing and admitting patients with seasonal flu this year in Bradford, in similar numbers to last year so far.

“We routinely test for different flu strains and there have been patients with influenza A type H3, a similar strain to the one circulating worldwide and the so-called ‘Aussie’ flu and also patients with influenza B.

"Patients admitted with flu are treated with anti-viral drugs as well as antibiotics if there are bacterial complications."

He added: "As in previous years we have prepared for the annual flu season and our annual winter flu plan is well underway."

The Trust is reminding people, particularly the elderly, pregnant and those with long-term health conditions to get a flu jab, the current vaccine includes coverage for three strains of flu including one like the Australian bug.

“We are also asking people with flu-like symptoms not to visit patients, come in for routine appointments or come into A&E unless they feel they have serious respiratory problems. This request is part of our normal winter planning and helps protect our patients and staff,” said Dr Stanley who is the Trust's Director of Infection Prevention and Control and Consultant in Infectious Diseases.

So far Plymouth, Cornwall, Durham, Teesside, Essex, Dumfries and Galloway and the north east areas of Scotland are the worst affected by the Aussie flu strain, according to Public Health England.

Airedale NHS Foundation Trust has also been testing patients for Aussie flu among other types of influenza.

Its director of nursing Jill Asbury said: “We have had one confirmed case of influenza in the hospital, as well as two others being swabbed to check for the influenza virus.”

She said the Trust manages flu cases year on year, and has escalation and continuity plans in place “if there is ever a threat of an outbreak.”