News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search

 


Killer Flu Expected to Hit Waikato This Winter

Media Release

Date: Friday 22 March 2013

KILLER FLU EXPECTED TO HIT WAIKATO THIS WINTER

A killer flu is expected to strike New Zealand this year and doctors are warning it is a deadly serious virus.

Waikato DHB medical officer of health Dr Felicity Dumble says she is concerned about the flu strain which saw 64 children die in the United States from influenza-associated illnesses during their winter.

Coupled with that, Waikato is seeing increasing cases of pertussis (whooping cough). The latest Public Health Bulletin shows Waikato had 63 reported cases in February, up 41 on the same month last year with 124 year to date since 1 July.

Of the 163 notified cases since 1 January 2012, 57 were from Hamilton, 12 from Matamata Piako, seven from Hauraki, nine from Otorohanga, three from Ruapehu, eight from South Waikato, 22 from Thames Coromandel, 16 from Waikato district, 16 from Waipa and three from Waitomo.

"We had the second highest notification rate in New Zealand last month," said Dr Dumble.

"We encourage pregnant women to ask their doctor about the free pertussis vaccine when receiving their influenza vaccine. Both vaccines are recommended and funded for pregnant women, as the viruses cause high risk to mother and baby and are circulating at epidemic levels."

The National Influenza Specialist Group (NISG) and national District Health Boards (DHBs) advise that influenza vaccinations are the most effective way to fight the epidemic levels of infection that struck the Northern Hemisphere winter.

“No matter how fit and healthy you are, we are all at risk of catching this disease,” said Dr Dumble.
However, elderly and very young patients were particularly vulnerable in the United States this season.

People 65 and over accounted for more than half of all reported influenza-associated hospitalisations– the highest number since records began in 2005. The next highest group were children under four years olds.

“The timing of New Zealand's influenza season is unpredictable but we may see the disease arriving earlier than usual as has happened in the Northern Hemisphere," said Dr Dumble.
Fortunately the New Zealand vaccines for 2013 cover the virus strains causing problems in the Northern Hemisphere and most likely to affect us this year.

"Influenza vaccination is the best way to reduce your risk of catching this disease and lessen symptoms and complications if you do," said Dr Dumble.

She warned being fit and healthy cannot prevent the flu. Immunity to a particular strain of the virus only occurs if you have had it before.

The 2013 vaccine has just arrived in GP surgeries across the country and immunisation is free from a GP or nurse for New Zealanders at high risk of complications - pregnant women, people aged 65 and over, and for people of any age with long-term health conditions.

“It takes two weeks to develop immunity following vaccination so being vaccinated before the season starts will gain you the most benefit,” said Dr Dumble.

The influenza vaccine is safe and effective and can reduce illness and respiratory diseases which are deadly for some pregnant women.

As well as getting an influenza vaccination, NISG and national DHBs urge protection is heightened by:

• Washing and drying hands often

• Staying away from people who are sick

• Staying away from work or school if unwell

• Covering coughs and sneezes

More pertussis information:

Pertussis (whooping cough) epidemiology in Waikato, New Zealand: 2000–2009

http://www.waikatodhb.govt.nz/news/pageid/2145880292/Killer_flu_expected_this_winter

http://www.waikatodhb.govt.nz/events/pageid/2145879519/Pertussis_rates_rise_-_Latest_public_health_bullet

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

Anniversaries: Vivid Memories Four Years After Christchurch Quake

Four years ago, an earthquake that would change the lives of thousands shook Christchurch at 12.51 p.m. More>>

ALSO:

Environment 'n' Conservation: Slash Meets Tāne The Tuatara

Rock and Roll superstar and former Guns 'n' Roses guitarist Slash visited Zealandia Ecosanctuary along with collaborating band Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators. More>>

Foo Fighters: Exclusive Show In Support Of Music Foundation

Frontier Touring has today announced that the Foo Fighters will play a last minute intimate and exclusive benefit show at the Auckland Town Hall this Friday February 20 with all profits going to The New Zealand Music Foundation. More>>

ALSO:

Canterbury Quakes: Feedback Sought On Short-Listed Memorial Designs

Six short-listed designs for the Canterbury Earthquake Memorial have been released for public input... The Memorial will honour the victims of Canterbury’s earthquakes and acknowledge the suffering of all those who lived through them as well as the heroism of those who participated in the rescue and recovery operations. More>>

ALSO:

Celia Lashlie: Legacy Will Live On

Social justice advocate Celia Lashlie leaves a legacy that will continue to have a positive impact on the lives of New Zealanders for years to come, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “Celia was a powerful voice for reason, sense and compassion. Her work, particularly with teenage boys, was ground-breaking." More>>

ALSO:

Obituary: Sad Farewell To PPTA Activist Robin Duff

Duff has been a long-time fixture of the association... Most recently Duff has been working hard to support Canterbury teachers through the quakes that devastated the region. More>>

ALSO:

Poroporoaki: Dr Apirana Tuahae Kaukapakapa Mahuika

Papa Api was a man of many great gifts and occupied a long list of roles including priest, teacher, scholar, politician, and leader. Chair of Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou, and a rangatira of his iwi... More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Health
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news