The latest news on swine flu

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The latest update from the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that as of the 6th of July the worldwide total of H1N1 influenza A cases (swine flu) had reached 94,512 including 429 deaths.

Of these officially recorded cases by the WHO Australia accounts for 5,298 including 10 deaths and lies in sixth position of countries to date worse affected.

However according to the latest Australian government figures the picture is far bleaker because as of yesterday Australia has now had 8,337 confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus, including 18 deaths - the national breakdown of cases is currently the ACT 336, NSW 1,858, NT 578, Qld 1,976, SA 920, Tas 137, Vic 2,067, WA 463.

There are currently 132 people in hospital around Australia with the virus, 29 of these are in intensive care - the total number of hospitalisations in Australia since the H1N1 pandemic began is 902.

The United States has been particularly affected with 33,902 including 170 deaths, followed by Mexico with 10,262 cases including 119 deaths, Canada with 7,983 cases including 25 deaths, the United Kingdom with 7,447 cases including 3 deaths and Chile with 7,376 cases including 14 deaths.

These numbers are of course a week old and current estimates will undoubtedly exceed them as it often takes weeks or months to collect data on flu deaths.

The WHO says it has received information from health authorities in Denmark, Japan and Hong Kong that some H1N1 viruses appear to be resistant to the antiviral drug Tamiflu - the viruses were found in three patients who did not have severe disease and all have now apparently recovered.

The WHO says investigations by the Global Influenza Surveillance Network into almost 1000 pandemic H1N1 viruses have not found the resistant virus in the close contacts of these three people and all other viruses have been shown sensitive to the anti-virals Tamiflu and Relenza.

The WHO says that instances of drug resistance appear to represent sporadic cases of resistance and currently there is no evidence to indicate the development of widespread antiviral resistance among pandemic H1N1 viruses and antiviral drugs remain a key component of the public health response when used as recommended.

Health officials in the U.S. say another $1 billion will be spent on the bulk ingredients for an H1N1 vaccine.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says while there are plans for a mid-October vaccination programme it remains unclear whether the vaccine would be offered for swine flu - the WHO is expected to issue guidance on whether an H1N1 swine flu vaccine will be offered alongside the seasonal flu vaccine.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reportedly working with scientists at the National Institutes of Health to ensure the vaccination programme will be safe and effective.

Health experts estimate that at least 1 million people have been infected with swine flu in the United States and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it has confirmed 211 deaths.

In Australia 18 Queenslanders have reportedly been hospitalised with swine flu and 5 remain in intensive care - across the state 2,000 people have now tested positive for the H1N1 flu virus - Queensland Health says 2,026 cases of H1N1 were confirmed in the state last night with more than 400 diagnosed with swine flu over the weekend.

Health experts say people who have mild flu-like symptoms do not need to visit their GP and parents should keep children at home if they are sick with flu-like symptoms and this also applies to workers who develop flu symptoms - they say only those with underlying medical conditions which render them more vulnerable to developing complications need to be tested for the virus.

In central Queensland, all 91 inmates at the Capricornia low security prison farm near Rockhampton are undergoing tests after some prisoners showed flu symptoms and 6 men have been isolated, while they wait for swine flu test results.

To date Queensland has recorded no death from the illness, but health officials across the country are warning Australians not to become complacent about the H1N1 flu outbreak.

Seasonal epidemics of influenza occur yearly during autumn and winter in temperate regions - in some tropical countries, influenza viruses circulate throughout the year with one or two peaks during rainy seasons.

Worldwide epidemics of seasonal influenza result in about 3 to 5 million cases of severe illness, and about 250,000 to 500,000 deaths - about 36,000 people die each year from the seasonal flu in the United States alone.


  1. Israel says:

    The information is far below the real figures. Gathering information on hourly basis from all sources on the netfigures are:
    about 115000 cases (including suspected)
    about 580-600 deaths.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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