A DEADLY flu strain has hit Britain after killing six children in Australia.
Experts warned last night that the H3N2 Brisbane 10 strain is the most common type of flu currently going around.
It caused a 300% rise in the usual number of cases of flu in Australia last year.
In Britain the current flu season is predicted to deepen as the disease peaks between January and March.
The European Influenza Surveillance Scheme said the UK and three other countries – Bulgaria, Ireland and Spain – are experiencing “medium intensity” flu activity, while in Portugal flu has reached high intensity levels.
The UK Health Protection Agency and the Royal College of GPs have already reported a sharp increase in the number of flu-like illnesses in the last two weeks.
The flu season began a month earlier than last winter and coincided with widespread outbreaks of norovirus which has put the NHS under pressure.
Flu levels increased from 27 GP consultations about the disease per 100,000 of population in the first week of December and has now reached 68 per 100,000.
An epidemic is declared when the rate exceeds 200 consultations per 100,000.
But the current vaccine is well suited to tackle the strains in circulation and more than three out of four over 65s have had the jab.
For the first time in 20 years the seasonal jab has changed to deal with three different strains.
The World Health Organ-isation analyses the strains circulating in the southern hemisphere winter and matches the vaccine content for the northern hemisphere.
This means the most common flu strains in circulation are different from those last winter and anyone who fell ill last year may not have any natural immunity to the new types.
A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “Flu has started earlier this year.
“We have had very little flu over the past few years and this year may be like 1999/2000 when figures were quite high.
“The best protection against flu is to have the flu jab. If you are over 65 or in one of the at risk groups and have not had the jab this year, it’s not too late.
“If you think you have flu, stay at home, drink plenty of fluids and take medicines like aspirin or paracetamol for your symptoms.”