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Over three quarters of flu infections contracted last year did not have any symptoms, researchers found.
Most of the infections (77%) didn't have any symptoms despite one in five people contracting either seasonal flu and the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic.
According to The Lancet Respiratory Medicine Journal:
- Researchers found that on average, 18% of people who had not received a flu jab were infected with flu each season.
- And only 17% of those infected felt ill enough to visit their GP.
- Over the winter flu season, 4.7% of people were believed to have flu compared to 6% the previous year.
- Some 5% of children were reported to have flu, compared to almost 8% the previous year.
More research will need to be done into the effects of vigorous exercise in warding off the flu, but fresh data shows it can help reduce the chance of catching it, experts have said.
Dr Alma Adler, research fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, explained:
Two-and-a-half hours of vigorous exercise every week cut the chance of catching the flu by approximately 10%, research suggests.
Physical activity which leads to sweating or hard breathing reduces flu or flu-like illness, experts at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found.
Walking, light jogging and other gentle sports which did not raise heart rate, were found to have little effect.
The Flusurvey also found overall flu levels across the UK appear to be down on last year, with the influenza season apparently curbed by a lack of illness among children and young people.