Ministry of HealthMonday 23 August 2010, 4:14PM
Influenza H1N1 activity is continuing to increase with some
areas reporting higher hospitalisation rates than experienced
during last year's pandemic.
As at midday today, there have been 501 hospitalisations of
lab-confirmed pandemic influenza H1N1 this year to date in New
Zealand, including 16 people currently in intensive care with
confirmed H1N1. There have been a total of 77 admissions of
confirmed H1N1 to intensive care so far this year. These figures do
not include influenza-like illness among people admitted to
hospital without a positive H1N1 lab test result.
Pandemic influenza H1N1 is the most common strain of influenza
circulating in the community, although most people will not be
tested for it. For the majority of people it's a mild to moderate
illness, but for some it can be serious.
So far this year there have been ten deaths reported as linked
to swine flu. Six of these deaths have so far been confirmed as
being due to swine flu. The death reported since last
Thursday's (19/8) update occurred in the Taranaki region. Further
information on this case is available from Taranaki DHB's
There continues to be strong uptake of recommendations to seek
medical advice early - this is particularly important for people
with underlying medical conditions or who are severely overweight
or pregnant as they are at greater risk of a more severe
illness. If you have flu-like symptoms, phoning your GP
first before you go in can help them manage your care and prevent
spread to others. For health advice at any time, call
Healthline 0800 611 116.
Protecting yourself and others
For some people, influenza can be a very serious illness. The
basic measures to protect yourself and others remain the same, but
are more important as we see more influenza circulating in the
know the symptoms of influenza, which can include a high fever,
headache, cough, sore throat, tiredness and generally aching all
over phone for medical advice quickly (call your GP or Healthline
on 0800 611 116) if you have influenza-like symptoms, including
consideration of whether you need antiviral medicine treatment.
Antiviral medication may lessen the severity and length of your
illness, but is best started within the first 48 hours. Antiviral
medication is currently available free of charge for people who are
prescribed it for influenza treatment.
Seeking early medical advice is especially important for women
who are pregnant, severely overweight people and those with
underlying medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, cancer,
heart and lung disease and other conditions including autoimmune
diseases wash and dry hands frequently, cover coughs and sneezes
and stay home if you are sick.
If you haven't yet been immunised, it's important to book in to
get immunised now, as it takes up to a fortnight for the vaccine to
offer its full level of protection. Young children also need a
longer time as they require two doses a month apart to be assured
of best protection. Immunisation is especially recommended for
those at greatest risk of complications from H1N1 influenza,
including women who are pregnant, very young children, severely
overweight people and those with underlying medical conditions.
To allow us flexibility over the weeks ahead, the Ministry has
reached an agreement with Sanofi, who will supply up to 35,000
doses of Intanza for the subsidised influenza immunisation
programme. Intanza provides protection against the same
strains of influenza as Vaxigrip (the brand which is currently in
use) including pandemic influenza H1N1 (swine flu). Intanza
is only approved for use in individuals aged 18 to 59 - therefore
only individuals with chronic conditions, obese individuals or
pregnant women in this age range will be subsidised for
Intanza, perhaps best known for its very small needle, is new on
the scene this year, and until now has only been available on the
private market. Please be aware that, as per our planning, at some
stage in the next few weeks warehouse supplies of Vaxigrip will be
depleted, making Intanza the only seasonal flu vaccine available
for subsidised patients.
More information can be found on the Ministry of Health's
Influenza webpages at: http://www.moh.govt.nz/influenza-a-h1n1.