06/08/2009

Further Swine Flu Cases Confirmed

Lab tested cases of swine flu across Northern Ireland continue to rise.

However, while many more people have been diagnosed as swine flu sufferers, the number of laboratory confirmed cases of swine flu have risen by just 16 - a far lower rate of increase than anywhere else in the British Isles.

The news is according to the latest available figures released by the Department of Health.

They said there have now been 83 laboratory confirmed cases here since the beginning of the outbreak, and so far, there have not been any swine flu related deaths in Northern Ireland.

However, earlier this week, a soldier from Coleraine, who was based in England, became the first UK serviceperson to die from the virus.

Lee Porter, a bombardier in the Royal Artillery, died in a Surrey hospital last Friday, two weeks after falling sick.
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The weekly update which details the spread of swine flu in Northern Ireland also shows there has been an increase in the number of people contacting out-of-hours services with flu and flu-like symptoms.

There has also been a slight rise in the number of calls to GPs from patients with such symptoms.

Many patients are being diagnosed with swine flu over the phone as it is deemed too risky to have them visit a GP surgery.

Many of these patients may be suffering from a flu-like illness, rather than swine flu which can only be fully confirmed by laboratory testing.

One busy GP in Newtownabbey has seen a large increase in calls from patients suffering suspected swine flu.

He admitted today that he has yet to prescribe the specialist medication Tamilflu to any of those falling ill.

He isn't convinced it would aid their recovery and its unnecessary use might prevent effective use later should the swine flu epidemic escalate in the autumn as is widely expected.

See: NI Soldier Dies From Swine Flu

(BMcC/KMcA)

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