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  • Warning Over ‘Swine Flu Parties’

    Posted on June 30th, 2009 admin No comments

    Parents have been warned not to take their children to “swine flu parties” in the hope they will catch the disease now and build up immunity.

    Although no firm evidence has emerged of such events taking place, family website mumsnet.com has witnessed discussions over whether parents should take steps to ensure their children acquire immunity before the main flu season in the winter, when some people expect the virus to be more potent.

    British Medical Association expert Dr Richard Jarvis warned against taking such an approach.

    His warning came the day after news emerged of the first death of a child with swine flu in the UK. Sameerah Ahmad, who had underlying health problems, died at Birmingham Children’s Hospital on Friday evening.

    She is the third person with swine flu to die in the UK since the start of the outbreak, but it is not yet known if the disease contributed to her death.

    The West Midlands has been declared a hotspot for the disease, with 2,104 confirmed cases so far, more than a third of the UK’s total and more than two-fifths of all the cases in England.

    Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that she had heard rumours of “swine flu parties” taking place. “There is an awful lot of discussion from people who have come up with a fairly rational conclusion that it might be better to pick this up now, given that we all think it might mutate to a more virulent strain in the winter,” she said.

    “We have heard of people saying ‘Can we come round to your house when you get it?’ There’s definitely a prevailing view that it might be better to get it now and some people are not despairing if there is a case in their school.”

    But Dr Jarvis, the chairman of the BMA’s public health committee, told Today: “I think parents would want to take into account that the flu – although this particular strain is relatively mild for the most part – is something that will knock people off their feet for a few days and we are seeing appreciable morbidity, severe side-effects and sadly the occasional death.

    “My advice to parents would be to take this into account before taking any child along to a flu party.”

  • Birmingham Girl Dies Of Swine Flu

    Posted on June 29th, 2009 admin No comments

    A nine-year-old Birmingham girl has died in hospital after contracting swine flu.

    Birmingham Children’s Hospital said the girl, who has not been named, had died on Friday. The hospital added that she had been suffering from other health problems previously.

    It is the third confirmed death from swine flu in the UK.

    A NHS West Midlands spokeswoman said: “We can sadly confirm that a child died at Birmingham Children’s Hospital on Friday evening. The child has since tested positive for swine flu but had other serious underlying health conditions.”

    In a statement, Dr Helen Carter, public health consultant at NHS West Midlands, said: “Our thoughts are with the family of the patient at this very sad time. The family has asked for the patient’s identity to be kept private and we will not be releasing any further details.

    “We ask that you respect the family’s privacy at this difficult time.

    “The West Midlands has seen the highest number of cases of swine flu. It is important to remember that our experience here has been that the vast majority of cases with swine flu are mild.

    “I would like to urge everyone that there are some simple steps that the public can take to reduce their chances of catching flu.”

    The West Midlands has been declared a hotspot for the disease, with 2,104 confirmed cases so far – more than a third of the UK’s total and more than two-fifths of all the cases in England.

    The Health Protection Agency confirmed 588 new cases of swine flu in the region on Monday,

    Since Friday, 1,604 cases have been confirmed in England, taking the country’s total to 4,968 and the UK’s total so far to 5,937.

    Last week health officials said the West Midlands, along with London which has 1,564 confirmed cases so far, would adopt a policy of outbreak management, with swine flu cases being clinically diagnosed rather than being confirmed by laboratory results.

    The new policy means swabbing will take place only for a small number of cases to keep track of the strength of the virus.

    Doctors will also use the drug Tamiflu more selectively, targeting only people with symptoms. The drug is unlikely to be handed out to everyone who has come into contact with a swine flu sufferer as a precaution.

    Chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson stressed that many parts of the country were still in the containment phase. But he warned there could be “tens of thousands of cases” of swine flu each week by the autumn because the virus is more likely to thrive in the colder months.

    Sir Liam said: “We still think we are heading for the largest surge of cases in the autumn and winter.”

    Dr Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and ethics at the British Medical Association, said: “The fact is that any kind of flu can kill people of any age.

    “Flu can kill even completely healthy people if they get pneumonia but, if they have got other health problems, they are more likely to get complications.

    “Most of the people with swine flu have been saved. There will be occasional tragedies and, of course, every death is a tragedy. But it’s important that people do not panic. It is expected that there will be deaths.”

    She said the Health Protection Agency (HPA) is watching closely to work out the rate and type of complications from swine flu.

    “As we get more and more data, we can start to assess exactly the kind of complications and we may start to be able to identify groups at higher risk.

    “This will help us in the future when we have a vaccine – to be able to vaccinate the people at highest risk.”

    Dr Nathanson said experts were being “very, very fastidious” at chasing down cases and recording data that was being used to inform the response to the pandemic.

    A 73-year-old man from the Inverclyde area died at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, Scotland, on Saturday night.

    The unnamed man, who, like the Birmingham girl, had serious underlying health conditions, had been treated in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit for the past 15 days.

    The first UK fatality, Jacqui Flemming, 38, who had just given birth prematurely, died two weeks ago at the same hospital. She also had other health problems.

    Elsewhere, six revellers were sent home from the Glastonbury festival over the weekend with suspected swine flu and three or four ball boys and girls suffering from a “flu-like illness” were asked to stay away from the Wimbledon tennis tournament.

  • Swine Flu ‘out of control’ In UK Hotspots

    Posted on June 29th, 2009 admin No comments

    Parts of Britain now have so many cases of swine flu that it cannot be contained, it was revealed today.

    In the worst hit areas, antiviral treatment will only be given to people with symptoms, and schools will no longer be closed.

    Speaking this morning, Andy Burnham, the Health Secretary, and Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer, said that there were hotspots where swabbing and lab confirmations of the virus were now putting an unjustifiable strain on time and resources.

    These areas, including the West Midlands and London, are now moving from the containment phase, which is led by the Health Protection Agency, to outbreak management, led by the strategic health authorities and local health trusts.Mr Burnham said that, as of this morning, there were 3,597 lab-confirmed cases of swine flu in the UK.

    “The vast majority of these cases have shown only mild symptoms, though some cases have been more serious,” he said.

    “Our approach has focused on containing the spread and working with the local NHS to identify cases and isolate them as quickly as possible and treat them with antivirals and treat those around them and offer prophylactic treatment to those around them.

    “This is very resource-intensive, but it has been highly successful.”

    He added that, while containment had worked very well, the Department of Health had never been under any illusions that it would be able to prevent the spread indefinitely.

    He said that, following a meeting of ministers yesterday, the Department of Health had written to all the flu directors at the strategic health authorities to alert them to the need to move to outbreak management. However, he added that the containment strategy remained in place and outbreak management allowed for flexibility in how different areas of the country dealt with the varying severity of the virus’s spread.

    In the outbreak management phase, cases of swine flu are determined by clinical diagnosis rather than lab confirmation.

    A scientific committee is meeting over the coming days to advise the Government on how to implement treatment. It will consider whether to target only those most vulnerable cases, such as pregnant women and people with underlying chronic health conditions.

    Sir Liam Donaldson said that, in this scenario, it may be a better strategy to allow those people with mild symptoms to get through the virus with Paracetamol.

    The secretary of state also confirmed that the first of the 60 million doses of the vaccine ordered are expected to arrive by late August and that contracts had now been signed with GlaxoSmithKline and Baxter to secure enough vaccine for the whole population.

    Sir Liam added: “In all previous pandemics, excess mortality above the rates of seasonal flu has occurred for about three years afterwards. It’s not just after this winter, it’s the one after that and the one after that. Use of the vaccine will make some impact this year as it is rolled out and even more in the years after.”

  • Hospital Worker Suffers Swine Flu

    Posted on June 28th, 2009 admin No comments

    A 24-year-old hospital health worker has become the latest person to be confirmed with swine flu.

    Eight patients and three colleagues who came into contact with him at Cardiff’s University of Hospital of Wales have been offered antiviral medicine.

    The man did not contract the infection in the hospital and is not in work.

    Three others cases have also been confirmed, bringing the total confirmed in Wales to 17. They include an eight-year-old boy from Denbighshire.

    A 10-year-old boy from Pembrokeshire and a 22-year-old man from Monmouthshire have also been confirmed to have the flu, the National Public Health Service for Wales (NPHS) said.

    Meanwhile, another clinically presumed case involving a 19-year-old woman from Bridgend, who is directly linked to a confirmed case in Exeter, has been announced.

    The National Public Health Service for Wales (NPHS) has up until now been testing everyone who has potentially come into contact with swine flu and who has symptoms.

     

    But a spokesman said: “We are moving to the position where swine flu is circulating so freely in the community that we will test very few people as patient’s doctors will assume that anyone with flu-like symptoms has contracted swine flu.

    “As part of the transition towards this phase, we are now reporting clinically presumed cases. They are household contacts of confirmed cases of swine flu, who have symptoms of swine flu and are presumed to have swine flu but will not be laboratory tested. ”

    ‘Vigilant’

    He said there was enough evidence of swine flu with these patients for doctors to treat them and testing was “unnecessary” to reach a diagnosis.

    So far, 189 people have been under investigation in Wales, with 17 confirmed cases, four clinically presumed cases and swine flu ruled out in 144 cases.

    This leaves 24 still under investigation, which the NPHS says all involve people with mild symptoms.

    Among the confirmed cases, a 59-year-old woman from Caerphilly, who became unwell in Spain and had been offered antiviral medicine, has been allowed home after hospital treatment.

    There are now 4,328 laboratory confirmed cases in the UK – 922 cases in Scotland, 3,364 cases in England and 25 in Northern Ireland.

    Chief medical officer for Wales, Dr Tony Jewell, said: “We have made it clear that there would be cases in Wales and that the number of cases would rise. Therefore everyone must continue to be vigilant and try to reduce the spread of the virus.”

  • Elderly Man With Swine Flu Dies

    Posted on June 28th, 2009 admin No comments

    An elderly man who was suffering from swine flu has died, health officials have confirmed.

    The 73-year old was being treated at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley at the time. He died late on Saturday.

    A spokesman for the Scottish Government said he was suffering from underlying health complications.

    The pensioner, from Inverclyde, passed away late on Saturday night. He is the second person in the UK who was suffering from swine flu to die.

    The first death, earlier this month, was a 38-year-old woman who gave birth prematurely while being treated at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. She also had underlying health conditions.

    Her death was the first connected to swine flu outside the Americas.

    The pensioner who died had been in intensive care for 15 days.

    Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the patient at this tragic and very sad time. The family have asked for the patient’s identity to be kept private.

    “Although it is concerning that the patient had swine flu, we are aware that the patient had very serious underlying health issues.

    “It’s important to remember that the vast majority of those who have H1N1 are suffering from relatively mild symptoms.

    A family spokesperson said: “Our beloved relative was private in life and we would ask that his privacy continues to be respected as we try to come to terms with our loss.”

    Dr Harry Burns, Scotland’s chief medical officer, said the death was a “tragedy” but also underlined that it was only the second death from swine flu in well over 4,000 cases in the UK.

    Flu pandemic

    He told the BBC: “It’s a tragedy, but it doesn’t change our view that this is no more serious than winter flu.

    “In fact this is the second case in about four and a half thousand cases that we’ve seen in the UK and that makes it a lot less severe, much less aggressive than we would normally see with a winter flu virus.

    “What happens with winter flu is there is no publicity,” he added.

    According to the latest available figures, there were 4,250 laboratory confirmed cases in the UK on Friday.

    Of these, 3,364 cases are in England, 850 in Scotland and 24 in Northern Ireland.

    Four new cases were confirmed in Wales on Sunday bringing the total to 17.

    60,000 cases

    It also emerged on Saturday that three people attending the Glastonbury Festival have been diagnosed with suspected swine flu.

    Two students and a 10-year-old child from a family of four showed symptoms of the illness when examined by festival medical staff.

    The students, from Exeter and Edinburgh universities, and the family were moved off the festival site and into an isolation facility.

    They have since returned home.

    The H1N1 virus first emerged in April in Mexico, which has recorded 116 deaths and 8,279 cases, according to the World Health Organisation.

    On 11 June, the WHO declared a global flu pandemic, meaning that swine flu virus was spreading in at least two regions of the world.

    Officials stressed that this did not mean the virus was causing more severe illness or more deaths.

    According to the latest figures from the WHO, there have been 263 deaths and nearly 60,000 cases in some 100 countries and territories.

  • Another 225 Cases Of Swine Flu Confirmed In London

    Posted on June 27th, 2009 admin No comments

    A further 225 cases of swine flu have been confirmed in London as the disease’s sweep around the country continued.

    The new cases bring the capital’s total to 985 – more than a quarter of the UK total of 3,364

    A total of 234 cases were confirmed elsewhere in the country, including 158 in the west Midlands.

    Both London and the Midlands are adopting a policy of outbreak management, meaning new swine flu cases will be clinically diagnosed rather than being confirmed by laboratory results.

    The new policy means swabbing will take place only for a small number of cases, to keep track of the strength of the virus.

    Doctors will also use the drug Tamiflu more selectively, targeting only people with symptoms.

    The drug is now unlikely to be handed out to everyone who has come into contact with a swine flu sufferer as a precaution.

    Chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson stressed that many parts of the country were still in the containment phase.

    But he warned there could be “tens of thousands of cases” of swine flu each week by the autumn because the virus is more likely to thrive in the colder months.”We still think we are heading for the largest surge of cases in the autumn and winter”

    Donaldson said: “We still think we are heading for the largest surge of cases in the autumn and winter.”

    He also pointed to three possible scenarios for the virus as the UK enters winter:

    • The virus remains relatively mild;

    • It mutates into something more severe;

    • It combines with another virus to create another strain.

    The Government has signed contracts with GSK and Baxter for the supply of 130 million doses of swine flu vaccine – enough for the entire population.

    The first delivery is expected in August and 60 million doses should have been delivered by the end of the year.

    The vaccine will also offer protection from swine flu in the years ahead.

    It also emerged that the fresh surge of swine flu cases has left NHS Direct swamped with calls. The advice to the public from NHS Direct is to check swine flu symptoms online before calling.

    A spokeswoman warned that people with non-urgent calls face a longer wait before being dealt with.

    “People who have flu-like symptoms and are concerned are advised to stay at home and if possible check their symptoms on the cold and flu symptom checker on http://www.nhs.uk,” she said.

    On Monday and Tuesday this week NHS Direct received more than 6,500 calls from people worried they had the virus.

  • Surge In Confirmed Swine Flu Cases – UK

    Posted on June 27th, 2009 admin No comments

    More than 500 further cases of swine flu have been confirmed in England, health officials said.

    The new cases included 225 in London and 158 in the West Midlands – two of the main hotspots – and took the total number of cases in England to 3,364, the Health Protection Agency said.

    The rise came as officials announced that London and the West Midlands would now adopt a policy of outbreak management, with swine flu cases being clinically diagnosed rather than being confirmed by laboratory results.A further 76 confirmed cases elsewhere in the UK took the overall total to 4,323.

    These included 72 new cases in Scotland, taking the total to 922, three in Wales, taking the country’s total to 12, and another in Northern Ireland, making a total of 25 there.

    On Thursday, health officials said they could no longer contain the virus in parts of the UK.

    The West Midlands now has a total of 1,516 cases – more than a third of all cases in the UK – while London has 985, more than a fifth of the UK total.

    Both hotspots are adopting a policy of outbreak management, meaning new swine flu cases will be clinically diagnosed rather than being confirmed by laboratory results.

    The new policy means swabbing will take place only for a small number of cases to keep track of the strength of the virus.

    Doctors will also use the drug Tamiflu more selectively, targeting only people with symptoms.

    Chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson stressed that many parts of the country were still in the containment phase, but warned there could be “tens of thousands of cases” of swine flu each week by the autumn because the virus is more likely to thrive in the colder months.

  • Swine Flu Detected At Argentina Pig Farm

    Posted on June 27th, 2009 admin No comments

    Swine flu has been detected in numerous pigs at a farm near the Argentine capital, but the virus has not shown itself to be any deadlier to the animals than a normal flu, the government said Friday.

    The discovery comes as Argentina is experiencing a human swine flu outbreak during the South American winter. The Health Ministry confirmed three new deaths — raising the country’s toll to 26, more than any other nation on the continent.

    Jorge Amaya, chief of the National Agricultural Health and Quality Service, told Mitre radio that about a quarter of pigs at the unidentified farm in Buenos Aires province were found to be infected.

    “The mortality rate is less than 2 percent, which is typical of a normal flu for swine,” Amaya said.

    Nevertheless, he said, “Veterinarians are very worried because humans are infecting the animals.” Amaya added that eating pork poses no danger to people.

    Pork Producers’ Association president Juan Uccelli said the farm would be closed down for an investigation of the H1N1 virus’ evolution there.

    Swine flu was previously found in pigs last month on a farm in Alberta, Canada. About 500 hogs were killed because a quarantine on the farm created overcrowding — not because they were sick, officials there said.

    The Health Ministry said Friday that 1,587 people in Argentina have been infected.

    But while authorities are taking measures to contain the virus, they say it is not expected to be worse than the regular seasonal flu.

  • More Than 500 New Swine Flu Cases In England

    Posted on June 26th, 2009 admin No comments

    The new cases include 225 in London and 158 in the West Midlands – two of the main hotspots.

    It takes the total number of cases in England to 3,364, the Health Protection Agency said.

    The rise came as officials announced on Thursday that London and the West Midlands will now adopt a policy of outbreak management.

    This means swine flu cases will be clinically diagnosed rather than being confirmed by laboratory results.

  • Swine Flu At Second School In Aylesbury

    Posted on June 25th, 2009 admin No comments

    Bucks County Council have this afternoon confirmed a second school in Aylesbury has been hit by swine flu.

    A pupil at Thomas Hickman School is said to have the H1N1 virus but the school will stay open.

    A spokesman at BCC said: “The Health Protection Agency has advised that there is no need to close the school at this stage. A letter will go to all parents this afternoon.

    “Anti-viral medication will be made available to pupils and staff in the same year group.”

    One parent at the school spoke to The Bucks Herald this afternoon: “They say there’s no risk and it’s only one student, but it’s here, it’s arrived in Aylesbury.

    “I’m going to talk to my wife later, but with only two and a half weeks before the summer break I think we might take them out early.

    “I don’t want it being transferred to my kids, not with something like this anyway.”

    Earlier today it was reported that the Pebble Brook School in Aylesbury has been closed until at least July 3 because two people have the virus.