Flu cases prompt vaccination call

Last updated 05:00 29/03/2014

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Swine flu is doing the rounds in Geraldine, although it is not known exactly how many cases there have been.

South Canterbury's medical officer of health, Dr Daniel Williams, confirmed positive swab tests for the flu strain had been recorded in the region. However, he could not confirm exactly how many cases there had been because it was not classed as a notifiable disease.

"It's from talking to the general practitioners," he said, of how he had become aware of the situation.

He said the initial reports were recorded in March. Since then the situation had "stalled".

"There's been out-of-season clusters of H1N1 [swine flu], with eight people admitted to ICU in Hawke's Bay [this year].

"As far as I'm aware we haven't had hospitalisations in South Canterbury."

Earlier this month Geraldine GP Dr Diana Scott highlighted the need for people to take care, following reports many people had been struck down by Influenza A, before GPs had the chance to vaccinate.

Dr Williams said this year's flu vaccine was one of the key ways to protect against the H1N1 flu strain. "We are better off this year [because the strain is covered in the vaccine]. This is a particularly good year to get your flu vaccines early."

It was important to take influenza seriously, he said. "Older people, young children, pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions are more likely to develop serious complications, such as pneumonia. Influenza causes deaths every year. If you're at higher risk, it's important to see your doctor early."

Practical steps to reduce the spread of flu include:

• staying home if you are unwell

• washing or sanitising your hands frequently

• keeping coughs and sneezes covered with a tissue.

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- The Timaru Herald

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