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Pandemic Influenza (H1N1) 09 Swine Flu Update 162

25 November 2009

Media Release

Pandemic Influenza (H1N1) 09 Swine Flu - Update 162

The situation in New Zealand essentially remains the same since the last update on 18 November 2009. Influenza activity, as indicated by the number of visits to doctors for influenza-like illness (ILI), continues to be low.


Weekly consultation rates for influenza-like illness in New Zealand, 2007-2009

Weekly consultation
rates for influenza-like illness in New Zealand, 2007-2009 -
Source: Institute of Environmental Science and Research,
Influenza Weekly Update
Click to enlarge

Source: Institute of Environmental Science and Research, Influenza Weekly Update

Whilst there is presently little influenza activity in New Zealand, it's important that we do not lose sight of the basic hygiene that helps reduce the spread of the virus - regularly washing and drying hands, staying away from others if sick, and covering coughs and sneezes.

People should still remain vigilant to the signs and symptoms of influenza. If the ill person's condition worsens, or they are in a high-risk group, they should seek health advice straight away by phoning Healthline (0800 611 116) or their healthcare provider. Free health advice is available on Healthline 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The risk factors for severe disease include being pregnant or severely obese, having underlying medical conditions such as chronic respiratory, heart and liver disease, blood disorders, neurological conditions, or being immuno-suppressed.


International situation

The World Health Organization’s latest update on 20 November 2009 reported the continuing spread of the pandemic influenza virus worldwide. Over 526,000 laboratory-confirmed cases of pandemic influenza and at least 6770 deaths have been reported.

Transmission of the pandemic influenza virus continues to intensify across parts of North America and much of Europe. In central and western Asia, increases in ILI or acute respiratory infections continue to be reported in several countries. Further information on the global spread of the pandemic influenza is available on the WHO website: http://www.who.int/csr/don/2009_11_20a/en/index.html

WHO estimates around 80 million doses of pandemic vaccine have been distributed and around 65 million people have been vaccinated. Although intense monitoring of vaccine safety continues, WHO cites that all data compiled to date indicate that pandemic vaccines match the safety profile of seasonal influenza vaccines, which have been used for more than 60 years. More information on the safety of pandemic vaccines is available on the WHO website: http://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/notes/briefing_20091119/en/index.html.


ENDS

Please attribute this statement to Dr Darren Hunt, Deputy Director of Public Health.


For health information and advice, call Healthline 0800 611 116.
For latest updates on Pandemic Influenza (H1N1) Swine Flu, visit http://www.moh.govt.nz.
Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/minhealthnz.

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