Families knocked over by flu outbreak

A debilitating flu virus is sweeping through families and has one person in intensive care at Nelson Hospital.

The Nelson Marlborough District Health Board has reported that doctors have seen whole families struck down by the viral illness.

Mapua GP and clinical director primary Dr Elizabeth Wood said half her workload over the last week consisted of treating patients who were "debilitated" by the flu and, in some cases, unable to take care of their own sick children.

The district health board's clinical director of medical services, Dr Bruce King, said there had been several confirmed cases of the H1N1 influenza infection in young people - the same strain which caused the 2009 swine flu pandemic.

One patient has been admitted to Nelson Hospital's intensive care unit and required prolonged mechanical ventilation.

"A number of patients have been admitted acutely with breathing difficulties from infections, many of which are presumed to be viral in origin," King said.

The elderly and those with pre-existing lung conditions are at greatest risk of influenza, he said.

Those with health complications have until August 31 to get the free flu jab.

Those at high risk of complications, include pregnant women, people aged 65 and over, and anyone with long-term health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and most cancers are eligible.

The Nelson Mail