29/10/2009

Swine Flu Infections Nears 900

As a young Omagh mum with swine flu fights for her life in a London hospital, the Department of Health has today published the NI swine flu bulletin.

While vaccinations began last week for the most 'at risk' groups, the department said the total number of laboratory confirmed cases in Northern Ireland as at noon on 28 October was just one short of 900.

The bulletin includes data for the week ending Friday 23 October (Week 43) and gives a good representation of the level of flu activity across Northern Ireland.

Key points from the bulletin include that GP consultations for flu and flu-like illness have risen from 241 per 100,000 in Week 42 to 280 in Week 43 (16% increase) and remain highest in the 5-14 age group.

The data also recorded there were 142 new cases of laboratory confirmed swine flu with all confirmed cases in Northern Ireland as at noon on 28 October recorded as 899.

Antiviral prescriptions have increased to 2,552 during week 43 (42% increase) compared with 1,791 courses prescribed in week 42; a total of 18,331 antiviral prescriptions have been issued at noon 28 October.
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The number of cumulative swine flu hospitalisations is 437 and there has been a 23% increase in the number of new hospitalisations from 62 in week 42 to 76 in week 43.

However, there were no deaths related to swine flu in the last week, but the total of local fatalities currently stands at eight.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride said: "Swine flu is clearly still circulating widely in the community.

"Our rates of flu are at the highest reported for over nine years. Levels remain highest amongst the 5-14 age group. Hospitalisations have also increased this week.

"Vulnerable groups such as pregnant women and those with underlying health conditions are a priority within our vaccination programme and I would encourage everyone to get the vaccine when it is offered," he said.

"I want to reassure the public however that for the vast majority of people swine flu remains a relatively mild illness from which you will make a full recovery.

"For otherwise fit and healthy people, there is usually no need to take antivirals," he continued.

"Most people will recover at home by taking simple measures to alleviate symptoms such as resting, taking paracetamol and drinking plenty of fluids," he concluded.

See: New Mum's Swine Flu Condition 'Stable'

(BMcC/KMcA)

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