HEALTH

Pandemic Influenza H1N1 2009 (swine flu) - Update 206

Tuesday 7 September 2010, 9:50AM
By Ministry of Health
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Influenza H1N1 activity reports are continuing to show a decline.

The number of influenza calls to Healthline is back to normal - currently at the same rate as in 2008 - the year before the pandemic. Though the picture is complicated by the Christchurch earthquake which has bumped up the number of calls to Healthline overall.

Since last Thursday's update, there has been one additional death linked to swine flu reported. This brings the total to date to 17. Thirteen of these deaths have so far been confirmed as being due to swine flu. Details of the latest death is reported on the Auckland DHB website.

As at midday today, there have been 648 hospitalisations of laboratory-confirmed cases of pandemic influenza H1N1, including 11 people 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.

It's 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, phone your GP first before you go in to help them manage your care and prevent spread to others. For health advice, call Healthline on 0800 611 116.

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 is now winding down. Over 1.045 million doses of seasonal influenza vaccine – a record volume – were distributed this year.


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.

ENDS

Please attribute this statement to Dr Mark Jacobs, Director of Public Health

For health information and advice, call Healthline 0800 611 116.
For latest updates on Pandemic Influenza H1N1 2009 (swine flu), visit http://www.moh.govt.nz.
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