Swine flu spreading

Janna Sherman

Swine flu is spreading in Hokitika, with five new cases confirmed this week.
It follows two further cases of the influenza A H1N1 strain diagnosed at the Westland Medical Centre last week.
Dr Anna Dyzel said yesterday the virus was now taking hold in the community.
“Unfortunately, we are starting to see patients — a lot of very young children, who are really unwell, as well as adults,” Dr Dyzel said.
However, so far none had needed to be admitted to hospital.
The flu strain can be deadly in some cases.
In 2009, a swine flu pandemic was declared in New Zealand, with 3000 cases confirmed nationally and 19 deaths.
On the West Coast, more than 40 cases were reported.
Dr Dyzel said influenza A spread quickly because few people had immunity.
Last week, the medical centre increased its flu vaccine programme in the hope of checking the spread, however there was a lower-than-expected turnout.
“We’ve only given 35 vaccines in the past week of the 200 patients that should be vaccinated, so people are placing themselves at needless risk.”
Free flu vaccines are still available for people with chronic health conditions or those aged over 65.
“People need to be concerned if they have a temperature over 38 with headaches, fevers, chills or muscle pain,” Dr Dyzel said.
“Other illnesses can cause similar symptoms, so if they’re not sure, they should get checked. We encourage everyone with influenza to stay home and not spread the disease.”
West Coast medical officer of health Cheryl Brunton advised those not eligible for the free jab to invest in the vaccine as a precaution as the strain affected everyone, young and old.