Vaccination information on the flu in Sweden. Photo: Sveriges Radio.

Swedish flu season to begin in earnest

"It's not going to be worse than previous seasons"
5:19 min

Swedish health authorities are bracing for the perennial fight against the flu here and are warning Swedes that this year's season could be worse than 2013.

So far, a handful of cases have been confirmed and the Public Health Agency in Sweden says this year's strain of the influenza virus, the H3 subtype, usually affects the elderly more than others.

"It's not going to be worse than previous seasons," says Helene Englund, an epidemiologist at the agency, "but compared to last season, which was unusually mild, we're going to more of a normal season this year."

The best defense against the flu is hand washing, avoid those who are sick and getting a vaccine. But Englund says people not at risk for complications from influenza, such as the young and healthy, don't need to get the shot.

"You might have to stay at home for a week and you might feel really really bad, but it's not going to lead to hospitalization or death," she tell Radio Sweden.

The influenza virus causes coughs, fevers, aches and other cold-like symptoms that can extend well into the spring.

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