By Dr. Ananya Mandal, MD
Swine flu a form of influenza, became a major health scare assuming pandemic proportions starting in Mexico early last year. There were 37,000 confirmed cases in Australia with 5,000 hospitalizations, 700 admissions in intensive care units and 191 deaths.
This year the first serious confirmed case was reported recently. This patient is a non-pregnant woman of child-bearing age who was admitted to a Perth hospital earlier this month. She is the first Australian since December 11th 2009 to have been confirmed as a case of swine flu.
After the major spread of the disease last year 13 major hospitals joined hands to participate in the Influenza Complications Alert Network, or FluCAN. This case was reported to FluCAN on March 12 and it followed an Australian summertime lull for serious swine flu infections. The hospital surveillance program has also showed up 560 patients with confirmed swine flu plus another 1,600 with pneumonia last year.
Associate Professor Paul Kelly of the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at Australian National University said, “It's the first case severe enough to lead to hospitalisation in the group of hospitals that we monitor. As far as I know she the patient is fine."
"(These cases) really dropped off very quickly after October and in November, December there were a few and then nothing through January and February and up to two weeks ago," Dr Kelly said. "There was nothing last week either so it might be just a one-off but it is a warning."