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  • Why young people are dying from swine flu

    Posted on January 8th, 2011 admin No comments

    ROBERTO Vivancos, Consultant in communicable disease control at the Mersey Health Protection Unit, said it was difficult to compare flu deaths, as they were not recorded prior to last year’s pandemic.

    He said: “Fifty deaths nationally may seem high but people do die from flu every year, we just did not record things in the same way before so there is no way of comparing.

    “Levels are high this year and this partly explains the deaths. “More are getting it than last winter but last year the pandemic began in summer.

    “Many people had flu then which reduced levels in the winter months because they gained immunity.

    “Also last year more people came forward to be immunised.

    “I believe levels of immunisation earlier in this flu season were quite low.

    “More people were given anti-virals, which prevented it spreading. and the cold weather this year could also be an additional factor.”

    He added most deaths were in people with underlying health conditions.

    Jonathan Read, lecturer in epidemiology at Liverpool University, said older people were often immune to swine flu, because it was the predominant strain between 1918 and the 1957.

    He said: “Younger people are more vulnerable to the H1N1 strain, because we only began to see it again last year.

    “Most of the people who have died will have had underlying health problems, and these are the people who should have the vaccine.

    “But the chances of healthy people being very ill with it are still very low.

    “For the vast majority flu of any kind is more of an inconvenience.”

  • 33 NI swine flu cases critical

    Posted on January 7th, 2011 admin No comments

    There are 33 swine flu cases fighting for their lives in intensive care in Northern Ireland hospitals.

    50% of these cases have no underlying health conditions, according to the PHA.

    It has been reported that three people have died in Northern Ireland after contracting the H1N1 virus.

    It’s understood a man from west Belfast died on Wednesday, while another two people passed away several weeks ago in Craigavon and Ballykelly.

    The PHA have so far failed to confirm the deaths.

    This comes as flu cases continue to rise in Northern Ireland, directly impacting on the availability of hospital beds.

    A total of 185 people had the H1N1 virus in the last week of December with the highest number of cases in the 15-44 age group.

    An increase of 49 cases on the previous week, GP consultation rates also shot up by 45% from 179.5 per 100,000 population.

    The surge in winter sickness is placing a great strain on hospital beds.

    Patients have been waiting up to 12 hours at Antrim Area Hospital to be admitted onto a ward, UTV has been told.

    Peter Flanagan, the Northern Trust’s senior medical director, admitted that numbers were “significantly higher than we would like them to be.”

    The granddaughter of a current patient Teresa McKenna, whose grandmother is aged 88, described the situation inside the hospital as “pandemonium.”

    “She’s lying in there in a hospital bed and she can hardly breathe.”

    A total of 40% of beds in hospitals throughout the region were occupied by patients suffering from flu and flu-like symptoms, Belfast Health and Social Care confirmed on Wednesday.

    Elective surgery has now been postponed for one week to ensure hospitals continue to meet the needs of intensive care patients.

    Meanwhile, swine flu cases have doubled in the past week in the Republic of Ireland resulting in record numbers waiting for a hospital bed.

    The Department of Health and Children reported 5,400 cases.

    26 flu patients are currently being treated in intensive care in southern hospitals.

    In England, the Government has admitted some areas are short of flu vaccines.

    Bringing more stocks in from Europe is being considered after shortages in some areas.

    Suppliers have been asked to contact their factories in Europe for a count of how many stocks of UK-licensed vaccine are available.

    11 people have died from the flu virus in the last week there.

    The deaths are mostly among children and young adults.

    Receiving the seasonal flu vaccine is “the best way” to protect against the virus, according to Dr. Lorraine Doherty, PHA’s Assistant Director.

    She recommends the injection for those in the ‘at-risk’ group which includes the over-65s and those with a lowered immune system.

    Addressing concerns over the availability of the flu vaccine, she said: “I would like to stress that vaccines are still available and pregnant women in particular, no matter what stage of pregnancy, should receive the vaccine, even if they received the swine flu vaccine last year.”

    And for those who have already contracted the illness, they have been advised to stay indoors.

    “If you do get flu this year, our advice is to stay at home and don’t spread your infection to others,” Dr. Doherty said.

    “Rest, drink plenty of fluids and use over-the-counter remedies if they make you feel more comfortable.

    “GPs and hospitals are busy dealing with flu cases, so I would emphasise that people should stay at home and contact their GP only if their condition worsens or if they are in an ‘at risk’ group or pregnant and not recovering.

    “Do not visit relatives or friends in hospital if you are sneezing, have a cough or have other symptoms of flu-like illness,” she added.