Swine flu breaks out in NT town
Wednesday, June 30, 2010 12:59:17 PM
June 30th, 2010
A SWINE flu cluster has broken out in a Territory town, with at least 29 cases detected over the past week. The cluster has prompted warnings for vulnerable people to take the flu vaccine. The mining town of Nhulunbuy has recorded at least 29 cases of the H1N1 strain of influenza, the NT Centre for Disease Control said yesterday. The cases were detected at the weekend and last week.
CDC chief health officer Barbara Paterson said people in high-risk groups should talk to their doctor about immunisation. She particularly urged pregnant women and people with chronic illnesses to get vaccinated. "The main thing with this is that we don't know if it's the start of the flu season or just an isolated event," she said. "There has been a cluster of cases and of course flu spreads very easily."
As the swine flu pandemic swept Australia last in 2009 there were more than 37,000 cases of H1N1 influenza, with 191 associated deaths. There had not been many cases of influenza, including swine flu, around Australia so far this year. The Territory had experienced just two, one in Alice Springs and one in Darwin. Neither required hospitalisation.
Dr Paterson said H1N1 is likely to be one of the main strains of the flu circulating in the Territory this year. "High-risk groups include pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions, Aboriginal people and the elderly," she said.
These people can receive the vaccine free under a federally-funded program. Concerns were raised about the flu vaccine earlier this year when dozens of young children, particularly in Western Australia, suffered fever and sometimes convulsions after flu vaccinations. Dr Paterson said children under five would not be given the seasonal flu vaccine, but it was safe for them to have the H1N1 vaccine Panvax.
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