Date Published: 26 April 2009
Mexican Swine Influenza - Health Alert
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 attention.