Swine flu on the increase but no need to panic

Reporter:

Claire Gallagher

A PATIENT is in intensive care at Wrexham Maelor Hospital suffering from swine flu.

Two others are also recovering at the hospital as the virus, known as H1N1, sweeps Britain.

But there have been no deaths at the Maelor due to the condition

So far it is thought 14 people across the UK have died from swine flu.

Meanwhile, Public Health Wales says in the past week the overall number of flu cases in Wales has almost doubled.

Now the body and local GPs are reminding people of the importance of the flu vaccination.

This season the vaccination also protects against the H1N1 strain.

Dr Peter Saul, of the Health Centre in Rhos, said he has seen an upsurge in the amount of flu during the past few weeks.

But he said most doctors will not diagnose swine flu specifically and instead treat the illness with medication for flu.

He said: “If somebody gets very poorly at hospital then there will be an attempt to make a more accurate diagnosis.

“For most people they make a very uneventful recovery with perhaps a week off work.”

Dr Saul said as the number of flu cases increases, doctors have been authorised to prescribe flu treatment Tamiflu to vulnerable patients.

He added: “Swine flu tends to affect young people and pregnant people but there are also so many other types of flu around.”

Keith Benning, of Chirk Practice, said: “I have treated a lot of throat infections lately.

“But as yet I haven’t seen that many cases of flu – it’s relatively quiet at the moment.

“We have had quite a good uptake on the flu vaccine.”

Dr Roland Salmon, regional epidemiologist for Public Health Wales, said a further increase in flu cases was expected in the next six to eight weeks.

He said: “There have been outbreaks of flu in schools across Wales and our laboratories have confirmed that both flu A and flu B strains are circulating.

“This year we are still seeing cases of H1N1 across Europe because while the pandemic is over, this virus is one of this year’s seasonal flu strains.

“Flu is a potentially serious illness and vaccination offers the best protection.

“We would urge anyone not yet vaccinated to speak to their GP as soon as possible.”

Vaccination against seasonal flu is offered in Wales to people over the age of 65, people with health conditions that make them more likely to suffer complications from flu, frontline healthcare workers and pregnant women. Andrew Duggan, a spokesman for the Countess of Chester Hospital, said it had so far taken in “a small number number of cases” of flu, some of which have required critical care.

He added: “We are following national guidance on seasonal flu and are in a state of readiness should we see further cases.” 

- People with flu-like symptoms who do not have other health conditions can treat themselves at home with over-the-counter remedies and should limit contact with others to avoid the spread of the infection.

Anyone with concerns about their health should contact their GP or NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47.

See full story in the Leader

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