Date Published: 10 June 2009

Influenza A (H1N1) Swine Flu, NZ update

Health News from New Zealand.

New Zealand situation
Doctors are reporting an increase in the number of people presenting at surgeries with influenza symptoms.

In the main, these are people who have not travelled overseas and are likely to be experiencing the usual symptoms of winter coughs, colds and seasonal influenza.
However it is important to remind people who have recently travelled overseas and who develop flu-like symptoms within seven days of returning, not to present to the doctors surgery or hospital emergency department in the first instance. Instead these people should phone their doctor or Healthline for medical advice. Turning up unannounced at a GP's surgery or hospital risks spreading the virus. Anyone unsure about symptoms and what to do should phone Healthline 0800 611 116.

The influenza virus spreads very easily ? via droplets in the air when a person coughs or sneezes and doesn't cover it up. The germs can live on hard surfaces for 48 hours.

Updated figures
The cumulative total of confirmed cases in New Zealand is now 23 up from 19 yesterday. Of the confirmed cases, 8 are still in isolation (Wellington 6, Auckland 1 and Canterbury 1). The rest of the confirmed cases are out of isolation and have recovered. The geographic locations of confirmed cases now include Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Hawke's Bay.

There are three new confirmed cases in Wellington and one in Canterbury.

The Canterbury case is a woman who was a passenger on flight LAN801, which arrived in Auckland from Chile on 4 June. The woman is in isolation and is being treated with Tamiflu.

Passengers sitting in the two rows in front of and the two rows behind the case as well as the row the case was sitting in are being contacted.

Two of the three new cases are close contacts of two Wellington people confirmed as positive for Influenza A (H1N1) yesterday. They had travelled together and arrived in New Zealand on 31 May from Los Angeles. Both cases and their close contacts are being treated with Tamiflu and asked to stay at home in isolation.

The cumulative total of probable cases is 10, down one from yesterday.

There are currently 103 suspected cases. The numbers of suspected cases fluctuate as more people with symptoms arriving from affected areas are assessed (treated and isolated), and as laboratory testing rules out some suspected cases.

There are 92 people in isolation or quarantine and being treated with Tamiflu. This is down from 161 yesterday (Tuesday June 9 June 2009). The numbers of people in isolation vary according to when they complete 72 hours of the five-day course of Tamiflu.

After today, suspected cases and numbers of people in isolation will no longer be reported. Fewer reporting requirements on public health services helps to relieve administrative pressure and allows them to focus on the increasing number of calls on their services in response to H1N1 cases.

Gisborne Boys High School
The number of suspected cases of Influenza A (H1N1) in a group of Gisborne Boys' High school students who returned on Sunday from a school trip to Brisbane has risen to 12.

The group of 19 includes 16 students, two teachers and one parent. All members of the group have been asked to remain at home in isolation until Friday.

Public health staff have taken swabs from the group and those with symptoms of influenza have been given Tamiflu. Results of the swabs are expected later today.

Tairawhiti DHB Medical Officer of Health, Dr Geoff Cramp, said it was originally thought only five from the group - two teachers, and one parent - had mild flu-like symptoms. However yesterday seven others from the group showed symptoms of a mild viral illness.

Papatoetoe Child Care Centre
Children and staff at Tama Ale Eleele A'oga Amata will complete the five-day quarantine period today,and with no further reports of illness, the centre is expected to re-open tomorrow. Dr Julia Peters, professional and clinical director at Auckland Regional Public Health Service thanked the centre management, staff, parents and community for their willing and full cooperation.

All test results received for the child care centre have been negative apart from the first case confirmed for Influenza A (H1N1) on Friday 5 June. The child had travelled back to New Zealand from Australia on 26 May 2009.

How to protect yourself and others
Anyone who has recently travelled overseas and is ill with influenza symptoms is advised to phone their GP or Healthline (0800 611 116) for medical advice. Do not turn up at a hospital or medical centre before doing this as you can spread germs to other people.

Signs and symptoms of influenza include fever, cough, sore throat, stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people also experience diarrhea and vomiting.

Hand hygiene is still the single most effective measure in protecting yourself. Wash your hands with soap and water and dry them thoroughly.

Alcohol-based cleaners are also effective. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth as germs spread this way.

Practise good cough and sneeze etiquette. This means covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and disposing of the tissue in a lined rubbish bin with a lid or plastic bag.

Sick people should stay home until they are well, rather than going to school or work. Try to avoid contact with sick people and reduce time spent in crowded settings. If you become sick, stay home for seven days after your symptoms begin or until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer. This is to keep you from infecting others.

International Update from the World Health Organization
Currently the WHO updates its website every two days with new figures for confirmed cases of Influenza A (H1N1).

As of 06:00 GMT, 8 June 2009, 73 countries had officially reported 25,288 cases of influenza A(H1N1) infection, including 139 deaths.

As at 6am on 10 June, Australia had reported 1224 cases of Influenza A (H1N1) infection. (Note: these figures are higher than those reported on the WHO website because the information is more up to date)


Also in the News:

Acute respiratory infection warning for bus and tram users - 17 Jan '11

Increased UK internet searches for flu info on NHS website - 6 Jan '11

UK Campaign to remind people to help prevent spread of flu - 30 Dec '10

Half of swine flu deaths were in previously healthy people - Liverpool Univ - 13 Jul '10

Health of future generations determined by childhood conditions - 25 Jun '10

Canada works with National and International Partners to Manage the Spread of the H1N1 Flu Virus - 29 Jun '09

NZ moves to management phase of H1N1 outbreak - 19 Jun '09

NZ remains in containment phase of H1N1 outbreak - 18 Jun '09

Angels are always there to guide and protect, through long days or short.

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