Wellington dodges serious flu spread
WEATHER, SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENT REPORTER
Flu epidemics gripping Auckland and Christchurch have spared Wellington, with infections in the capital largely confined to rest homes.
Regional Public Health medical officer of health Dr Annette Nesdale said although increases had been reported over the past two weeks influenza levels were not epidemic in the capital and tracking at normal levels for the time of the year.
The unit were currently investigating whether a jump in absenteeism at a Wellington area primary school was a flu outbreak.
School nurses would report back at the end of the week after investigating whether other schools were being affected by the virus.
''We do expect to see outbreaks in schools most years,'' she said.
Six rest homes and residential care facilities in Lower Hutt, Porirua and Wellington were also coping with outbreaks but Dr Nesdale said the phenomenon was typical.
Influenza infections peaked in August but the virus often lingers as late as October, she said.
Hawke's Bay DHB medical officer of health Dr Lester Calder said influenza rates in the area were tracking below the national average.
However, he expected a ''huge influx'' of cases to arrive over the next couple of weeks.
■ The deadline for a free vaccine available from GPs to those aged over 65, pregnant women and people with serious health conditions, has been extended to August 31.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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