Date Published: 26 April 2009
Mexican Swine Influenza - Health Alert
Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) in New Zealand 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. This is of particular concern due to the reported outbreaks of swine influenza affecting humans in Mexico and the United States (specifically in the states of California, Texas and Kansas at the present 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.
As a precaution, 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 the 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 said:
"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 to New Zealand from Mexico or the affected parts of the United States who have symptoms of influenza are advised to contact their GP or an after hours medical centre for advice about what to do and how to get checked out - and to do so before returning to work or school.
Anybody experiencing signs of severe influenza (flu) such as rapid breathing, difficulty breathing, chest pain, severe vomiting or if a child is not responding or is difficult to wake up, is advised to obtain immediate medical attention.