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Influenza (H1N1) 09 Swine Flu - Update 166

Pandemic Influenza (H1N1) 09 Swine Flu - Update 166

During the week 7 - 13 December the number of New Zealanders visiting a doctor with an influenza-like illness remains low. The rates of pandemic influenza are still at a low level in New Zealand, however, with the holiday season upon us, and more people travelling internationally, we would expect to see small local outbreaks over the coming months.

If you're travelling overseas during the holidays, check for the latest advice at www.safetravel.govt.nz. This includes making adequate preparations prior to travel, consulting your doctor about any medicines to take with you, and taking protective measures such as regular handwashing. New Zealanders with flu-like symptoms are advised to consider delaying their overseas travel until they are well.

Vaccine update

Based on the northern hemisphere experience, a resurgence of pandemic influenza (H1N1 09) seems likely in New Zealand late in March with a possible peak in late April/early May 2010.

The 2010 seasonal vaccine will include the pandemic strain (as well as two other strains of influenza) however, the vaccine may not be available until mid to late March. The Ministry of Health is in close contact with the vaccine manufacturers to ensure supplies will be available as soon as possible. Because of the likely delay in the arrival of the seasonal vaccine, in February 2010 the Ministry of Health will offer vaccination with a monovalent (single H1N1 strain) vaccine to frontline health care workers and people at higher risk of developing complications from pandemic influenza.

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

Source: Institute of Environmental Science and Research, Influenza Weekly Update 2009/47

Sentinel surveillance data from the Institute of Environmental Science and Research shows the current level of pandemic influenza activity in New Zealand is below baseline levels.

International situation

The World Health Organization reports that as of 18 December 2009, worldwide more than 208 countries and overseas territories and communities have reported laboratory-confirmed cases of pandemic influenza H1N1 2009, including at least 10,582 deaths.

More information on the global progress of the pandemic is available on the WHO website: http://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/en/

In the United States and Canada, overall levels of influenza-like illness have declined to near seasonal baseline levels. In Europe, widespread and active transmission of the virus continues, however it's declining in at least ten countries. High levels of influenza activity are reported in Eastern Europe, and Western and Central Asia. In East Asia, influenza transmission remains active however influenza transmission appears to be declining. The situation is similar in Japan and China.

Influenza transmission remains geographically widespread, but appears to be declining in Central and Southern America. It's active in much of Western and Central Asia and there is evidence of pandemic virus circulation in most regions of Africa. Pandemic influenza appears to be the predominant influenza virus circulating in Northern and Eastern Africa, with pandemic and seasonal viruses detected in West Africa.

ENDS

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