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Pandemic Influenza H1N1 2009 (swine flu) - Update

Pandemic Influenza H1N1 2009 (swine flu) - Update 208

Influenza H1N1 activity in the community, including influenza related calls to Healthline, continues to fall.

As at midday Thursday, there have been 690 hospitalisations of laboratory-confirmed cases of pandemic influenza H1N1, including four people with confirmed H1N1 currently in intensive care. So far this year, a total of 103 people with confirmed H1N1 have been admitted to intensive care. These figures do not include influenza-like illness among people admitted to hospital without a positive H1N1 laboratory test result. In the year to date, the deaths of 18 people have been linked to swine flu and 14 of these have been confirmed as being due to swine flu.

It's still important to seek medical advice early, particularly for people with underlying medical conditions or who are severely overweight or pregnant as they are at greater risk of a more severe illness. If you have flu-like symptoms, phoning your GP first before you go in can help them manage your care and prevent spread to others. For health advice, call Healthline on 0800 611 116. Stay home if you are unwell.

Protecting yourself and others
For some people, influenza can be a very serious illness. The main measures to protect yourself and others are:
• Know the symptoms of influenza, which can include a high fever, headache, cough, sore throat, tiredness and generally aching all over.
• Phone for medical advice quickly (call your GP or Healthline on 0800 611 116) if you have influenza-like symptoms, including consideration of whether you need antiviral medicine treatment. Antiviral medication may lessen the severity and length of your illness, but is best started within the first 48 hours. Antiviral medication is currently available free of charge for people who are prescribed it for influenza treatment.
• Seeking early medical advice is especially important for women who are pregnant, severely overweight people and those with underlying medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, cancer, heart and lung disease and other conditions including autoimmune diseases.
• Wash and dry hands frequently, cover coughs and sneezes and stay home if you are sick.

The seasonal influenza vaccination programme continues to wind down. Subsidised vaccine remains available for eligible persons, with two brands on offer - Intanza (approved for those 18 to 59 years old) and Vaxigrip (for all ages). However, uptake has slowed markedly in recent weeks. This is expected given that the subsidised vaccine has now been available for six months and we are now well through the normal flu season.

International situation
With the downgrading from a pandemic by the World Health Organization there are now fewer international reports. The most recent WHO update reported that transmission of the pandemic influenza remains most intense in parts of India and parts of the southern hemisphere, including New Zealand and Australia. The 27 August update is available on: http://www.who.int/csr/don/2010_08_27/en/index.html

ENDS

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