Irish authorities issue swine flu warning

 

The Health Service Executive and the Department of Health have issued a joint warning over the outbreak of a potentially fatal strain of swine flu in the US and Mexico.

 

The authorities advised people who have recently travelled to Mexico, California or Texas and who develop an influenza-like illness to contact their local doctor immediately.

They said they were closely monitoring the outbreak of human swine influenza which has claimed over 60 lives saying, officials from the HSE and the Health Protection Surveillance Centre were contact with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) about the outbreak.

There have been no cases of swine flu identified in Ireland or anywhere in Europe so far.

Head of Health Protection with the HSE Dr Kevin Kelleher said: “The ECDC and the World Health Organisation has confirmed that no cases of this illness have occurred in Europe, but that we should continue to closely follow the emerging situation.”

Signs and symptoms of this virus have consisted of influenza-like illness - fever and respiratory tract illness (cough, sore throat, runny nose), headache, muscle aches - and some cases have had vomiting and diarrhoea.

In the US, there have been six cases confirmed in California and two cases in San Antonio, Texas but no deaths of the disease, which has mild influenza-like symptoms, have been reported.

In Mexico, three separate events have been reported and there have been more than 854 cases of pneumonia identified. Of these, 59 have died.

Dr Kelleher said the virus had not been previously detected in pigs or humans.

Investigations are ongoing to determine the source of the infection and whether additional people have been infected with similar swine influenza viruses, he said.

The virus appears to have spread from human to human but it is not yet clear how easily it spreads.

Dr Kelleher said: “One important precaution being adopted is to ensure that health systems worldwide rapidly develop familiarity with this new virus.

“This will allow for the careful surveillance that WHO and ECDC has recommended. WHO, ECDC and all EU member states will be working together to provide support and advice on this issue,” he said.