Swine flu widespread

About 80 percent of patients seen with flu are likely to have swine flu, says Harbour Health chairwoman Kate Baddock.

Doctors have been talking to patients over the telephone and advising them to stay at home to stop spreading the virus, she says.

Dr Baddock, who works at the Warkworth Medical Centre, says patients need to keep their temperature under control and drink plenty of fluids.

Harbour Health primary health organisation covers North Shore and Rodney areas.

Many swine flu patients are young children and young adults because they are the ones that have not been vaccinated, she says.

A lot of the Harbour Health elderly residents were vaccinated against the virus so they are not seeing as many elderly, says Dr Baddock.

North Shore Hospital has seen a drop in the number of confirmed swine flu cases.

In the past three months there have been 26 patients with confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus.

At the same time last year there were 85 cases. Waitemata District Health Board communications adviser Kim Reed says because we have had a longer summer and autumn this year the peak flu season has started later.

There have been no deaths from the virus at the hospital.

Six people with swine flu have been admitted to intensive care in the past three months. Other patients were assessed and went home to receive treatment from their GP.

Infection control nurse specialist Poobie Pillay says last year it was a new strain of the flu and a vaccine was not available.

"This year is different because the majority of the population have been immunised against this strain.

"For those that aren't it's never too late to get vaccinated. If you are at high risk or experiencing influenza-like symptoms, it is advised you see your family doctor," she says.

The North Shore was the first to report swine flu in New Zealand in April last year with a group of 25 people from Rangitoto College returning from Mexico showing symptoms of the illness. One confirmed case of swine flu was also reported at Westlake Girls High School at the time.

North Shore Times