2010 Swine Flu Pandemic Influenza Update

(PR.co.nz) 2010 Pandemic Influenza H1N1 2009 (swine flu) – Update 172

During the week of 8-14 February 2010, overall influenza activity in New Zealand remained at the same low levels as in the previous week. Sentinel surveillance data show that visits to doctors for influenza-like illness (ILI) nationally remained below baseline. The daily volume of calls to Healthline (0800 611 116) for ILI remains relatively stable.

Weekly consultation rates for influenza-like illness in New Zealand, 2008-2010
Swine Flu Pandemic Update 2010

*A weekly rate of less than 50 ILI consultations per 100,000 patient population is considered baseline activity. A rate of 50-249 is considered indicative of normal seasonal influenza activity, and a rate of 250-399 indicative of higher than expected influenza activity. A rate of over 400 ILI consultations per 100,000 patient population indicates an epidemic level of influenza activity.

Source: Institute of Environmental Science and Research, Influenza Weekly Update 2010/6

We are on track to start the seasonal influenza vaccination programme in March. We expect the seasonal influenza vaccine, which is a trivalent vaccine containing the current H1N1 viral strain and two other influenza strains, will help protect New Zealanders against the flu.

The Ministry is currently making a monovalent (single viral strain) pandemic vaccine available through an early targeted immunisation programme. The Ministry recommends that those at highest risk of complications from pandemic influenza have this monovalent vaccine. Those eligible to receive this monovalent pandemic vaccine are pregnant women, people under 65 years of age (including children) with certain conditions (as for seasonal influenza) or are morbidly obese, and all children aged from 6 months to their fifth birthday enrolled in designated practices that have high proportions of people who are Maori, Pacific and/or from high deprivation areas. It is being made available through clinics, and eligible people who are interested in receiving the early vaccine can get information about these clinics from their DHB.

The early immunisation is also available to frontline healthcare workers, including staff in general practices, emergency departments, intensive care units and those who may have direct contact with at-risk patients.

International situation

Nearly 15,300 laboratory-confirmed deaths from pandemic influenza have been reported worldwide, the World Health Organization said in its 12 February 2010 update.

Overall pandemic influenza activity continues to decline in most countries in the northern hemisphere. Although transmission of the pandemic virus continues in northern Africa, South Asia and East Asia, a substantial decline in pandemic influenza activity has been observed over the past month across the region.

In Europe, the pandemic influenza virus continues to circulate widely, but the overall intensity of influenza activity has declined substantially from peaks seen during the earlier part of winter. Sporadic cases of pandemic influenza continue to be reported in the southern hemisphere, though there is no evidence yet of sustained community transmission.

Information on the global progress of the pandemic is available on the WHO website.

Media Release 18 February 2010 from Dr Fran McGrath, Deputy Director of Public Health

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