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Human Swine Influenza

Media Release
From: Jill Stringer
Date: 26 April 2009
Subject: Human Swine Influenza

Wairarapa DHB is monitoring the national and international information regarding the human swine influenza outbreak.

Yesterday the Minister of Health announced that the country was in Code Yellow which is a heightened state of awareness and border management.

“Wairarapa DHB is prepared for a Pandemic and has been training for the past three years to manage an outbreak of influenza,” says CEO Tracey Adamson. “We have activated our Pandemic Plan to the appropriate level, and key staff are on standby should the need arise.”

Manager of Public Health, Debi Lodge Schnellenberg said the DHB was prepared to activate an Emergency Operations Centre. This includes proactively ensuring appropriate staff and services are available, and liaison with local health service providers.

The Wairarapa Public Health Service is ready to start contact tracing on anyone identified as having come from an at-risk area. No-one in the Wairarapa has yet been identified, nor has anyone been identified as having been on the at-risk flights from Mexico, Vancouver or North and South America.

Members of the public who have travelled to Mexico or North America in the last fortnight should contact Healthline (0800 611 116) for information regarding the situation. They should phone their GP or Healthline for medical advice if they are displaying flu-like symptoms.

“This situation reinforces the wisdom of having a flu vaccination each year,” says Debi. “While Swine Flu is not covered in this year’s vaccination, the far more prevalent and just as serious Brisbane Flu is. The vaccination is free to anyone eligible – please check with your family doctor.”


Table: difference between a cold and the flu.

Release from Auckland Regional Public Health

Influenza Symptoms

Sudden onset of illness. Moderate to severe illness lasting 7-10 days
Fever (usually high)
Headache (may be severe)
Dry cough
may become moist
Muscle aches
Bed rest necessary
Can suffer severe complications (pneumonia)
Nausea and diarrhoea (Swine Flu only)

Cold Symptoms

Mild illness
Mild fever
Mild headache (congested sinuses)
Sometimes a cough
Muscle pain uncommon
A runny nose


Media Release

Sunday, 26 April 2009, 1500

Influenza-Like Illness In Returning Travellers

Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) is investigating an influenza-like illness amongst a group of 25 people from Rangitoto College, on Auckland’s North Shore, following the group’s return yesterday from a school trip to Mexico.

There are currently concerns regarding outbreaks of swine influenza affecting humans in Mexico and in the United States of America (in the states of California, Texas and Kansas at this time).

The group of 22 senior students and 3 teachers arrived into New Zealand from Mexico via Los Angeles on Flight NZ1 on 25 April 2009, having spent three weeks in Mexico. Some of the group have symptoms of influenza-like illness.

Therefore, as a precaution in view of the international situation, preliminary tests are under way to determine the cause of the illness and to exclude or confirm swine influenza (a type of influenza A, H1N1) or another type of virus. The group of students and teachers are remaining in home isolation until preliminary test

results are known. Advice has been given to the families regarding infection control precautions. ARPHS is supporting the families, and is providing advice to the Principal of Rangitoto College and keeping the Ministry of Education informed.

Clinical Director of ARPHS Dr Julia Peters says “We are taking this very seriously and doing everything necessary to manage this situation in Auckland. The Ministry of Health is managing the response to this issue at a national level.”

“The best things you can do to stop the spread of any type of influenza virus is to:

•stay at home and away from others if you are sick.

•cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue.

•put used tissues into a rubbish bin.

•avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth – germs spread that way.

•be careful to wash hands often with soap and dry them thoroughly – hand hygiene is critical: even when you start to feel better there is still a risk of infecting others, so keep to the 20/20 rule – 20 seconds washing and 20 seconds drying

•keep surfaces clean at home, school and work.

Travellers returning from Mexico or the affected parts of the United States who have symptoms of influenza are advised, before returning to work or school:

•to contact their GP or an after hours medical centre by phone, for advice about what to do and how to get checked out.

Anybody experiencing warning signs of severe influenza illness such as rapid breathing, difficulty breathing, chest pain, severe vomiting or if a child is not responding or is difficult to wake up, should get urgent medical

Questions and Answers

How serious is this and what are the chances of swine influenza reaching New Zealand?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has determined that the current situation constitutes a health emergency of international concern under the International Health Regulations (2005). Therefore New Zealand has to take this situation extremely seriously. See following links for further information and Q & A:

See also the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for further information and Q & A:

For hand hygiene facts and more facts about influenza people can go to ARPHS’ website:


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