Chch flu epidemic heading north
Sun, 22 Jul 2012 6:09p.m.
By Jessica Rowe
New Zealand is facing an influenza epidemic expected to be as severe as swine flu.
Around 50 patients are in isolation in Christchurch Hospital, and officials are warning the virus is headed north.
The medical centre has been inundated with flu patients after Christchurch Hospital started diverting people from ED.
Jane Morris had to take her mother to hospital with the flu, and now she has got it too.
“I spent five-and-a-half hours in A&E before she was admitted,” says Ms Morris. “She has developed an infection in her chest and I seem to be coming down with it too.”
Around 50 patients are in isolation in Christchurch Hospital, including six in intensive care.
The region's medical officer, Alistair Humphrey, says it's a serious outbreak of the H3N2 strain of virus, which causes nausea and hallucinations, and the hospital is struggling to cope.
“It's causing problems for the hospital,” says Dr Humphrey. “They are adapting to it, and set up a special ward for people with influenza and ED is diverting patients outwards.”
He says the virus is on par with swine flu, which killed 49 people in New Zealand in 2009, and it's heading north.
“If Canterbury's numbers climb, we can expect other parts of the country climb as well,” says Dr Humphrey. “They won't be completely excluded from this problem.”
Around 960,000 doses of the flu vaccine have been given out this winter, and the Immunisation Advisory Centre says that's about 30,000 fewer than last year.
“There has been a steep increase in flu cases in the last week or two,” says Nicky Turner of the Immunisation Advisory Centre.
“It looks like it is happening all over the country. The flu that we are seeing is the type that is in the flu vaccination, so we are hoping more people will get vaccinated.”
It's putting enormous pressure on the health system, and officials are advising people to get the flu jab to prevent the virus spreading.
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23/07/2012 4:37:26 p.m.
Cheryl Thompson wrote:
How can a family of 9 adults 3 children and 2 newborn get a flu vaccine. What would be the cost of a flu vaccine with this amount of family members.
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