Pandemic influenza H1N1 2009 (swine flu) – update 192
Pandemic media release
Overall influenza activity is gradually increasing and is at the level usually seen at this time of year. The pandemic influenza virus is circulating in our communities, though the rate of consultation for influenza-like illness identified through sentinel general practices remains below the baseline level.
Influenza can be a serious illness needing hospitalisation, though for most people it is mild to moderate. As soon as you get symptoms of influenza, call your GP so they can decide whether it’s appropriate to prescribe antiviral medicines such as Tamiflu and Relenza. This is especially important for pregnant women, people who are severely overweight, and those with underlying medical conditions. People with symptoms of influenza can get antiviral medication at no charge, through a prescription from their GP. Early treatment is most effective; it should start within 48 hours from the onset of symptoms in adults, and within five days for children.
Vaccination is the best protection against influenza. Free vaccination for people in eligible groups will continue until vaccine supplies run out. This year’s seasonal influenza vaccine includes the pandemic H1N1 virus strain and is recommended for those at greatest risk of becoming seriously ill from influenza. These at-risk groups include women who are pregnant or recently pregnant, young children, severely overweight people and those with underlying medical conditions.
If you are planning to go to South Africa for the World Cup finals, note that the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued three health advisories which provide tips to enjoy safe travel there: http://www.who.int/ith/updates/20100421/en/index.html.
In its 25 June 2010 update, WHO noted that overall pandemic and seasonal influenza activity remains low worldwide. The pandemic influenza virus continues to be actively transmitted in the Caribbean, West Africa, and South and Southeast Asia. But pandemic and seasonal influenza viruses have been detected only sporadically during the early part of winter in the temperate regions of the southern hemisphere. WHO’s update on the progress of the pandemic is available on: http://www.who.int/csr/don/2010_06_25/en/index.html.
The Review Committee, which has been convened to evaluate WHO’s performance during the influenza pandemic and identify lessons learned to improve the global response to public health emergencies, is having its second meeting from 30 June to 2 July at WHO’s headquarters in Geneva.
Please attribute this statement to Dr Fran McGrath, Deputy Director of Public Health
For health information and advice, call Healthline on 0800 611 116.
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