28 April 2009
Fears are mounting that an international outbreak of swine flu may spread to Australia. Virologists say it’s inevitable that a case of the virus, described as a new subtype of swine influenza A (H1N1) not previously detected in swine or humans, will turn up in Australia.
In Mexico there have been 150 deaths among 1300 suspected cases, with 20 deaths confirmed as being related to swine flu. In the US there have been 20 non-fatal cases in 5 states, and unconfirmed cases have been reported in New Zealand and Europe. There are now 19 suspected cases of swine flu in Australia.
The World Health Organization declared the North American cases a ‘public health emergency of international concern’.
The Commonwealth’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jim Bishop said doctors should notify the local public health unit of suspected cases by telephone, and swabs of the nose and throat should be sent urgently for testing.
Professor Bishop said that people suspected of having swine flu should be advised to stay at home, and away from work and public places, until well. Although the illness appears to be mild in most cases, people suspected of having swine flu should contact their doctor by phone if their condition becomes worse.
NSW Health said the current case definition for the virus was an influenza-like illness or pneumonia plus a history of travel to Mexico or the United States within the past 7 days.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said laboratory testing had found the swine flu virus was susceptible to antiviral drugs oseltamivir (brand name Tamiflu) and zanamivir (brand name Relenza).
Last Reviewed: 28 April 2009