Australian swine flu toll climbs but expert says threat is over-hyped

According to the World Health Organisation's latest update, # 39, as of the 26th of May the latest figures in the influenza A H1N1 (swine flu) outbreak are 12,954 confirmed cases in 46 countries, including 92 deaths.

Worst affected remain the United States with 6,764 cases including 10 deaths, Mexico with 4,174 cases including 80 deaths, Canada with 921 cases including 1 death and Japan with 350 cases and no deaths.

Infectious diseases expert Professor John McKenzie says the hype concerning swine flu has been overdone by the media and politicians.

Professor McKenzie from Curtin University says he believes it has been over emphasised and people with flu symptoms should not rush to the doctor unless they are very ill but instead stay home, take an aspirin and try not to mingle with other people.

Professor McKenzie says while it is a new disease, it is in most people a very mild flu and is only severe in very occasional cases and always in people with underlying health problems.

Australia's national toll of swine flu cases has now reportedly climbed to 51 with the bulk of the cases in Victoria where three schools remain closed because of the outbreak.

Special swine flu clinics will apparently be set up at some public hospitals in Victoria to ease the pressure on emergency departments and to try to stop the spread of the virus - this will enable staff to isolate those with the virus from other patients in emergency departments - under the new measures, some nurses will be able to administer the anti-viral drug Tamiflu.

Late yesterday, 8 more people reportedly tested positive to the virus, including children from a class at the Mill Park Heights Primary School and students from several schools in Melbourne's northern and western suburbs are now at home in quarantine.

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon says that number scan be expected to rise significantly over the next few days and while the flu is very infectious, to date it has so far proved to be fairly mild in Australia and the public should be reassured that in most instances it will be comparable to other influenzas.

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