Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 Update


Weekly Update on 01/10/09 at 17:00

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Most people with pandemic influenza will have relatively mild symptoms, they will not need any antiviral medication and will recover by staying at home (to prevent spreading infection to others), drinking plenty of fluids and taking paracetamol regularly to relieve their symptoms. Antiviral medication is generally recommended only for people in certain at-risk groups (see below) and those who are severely ill. 

The approach to managing the current influenza situation has moved from one of containment (or limiting the entrance and initial spread of Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 into the country) to one of mitigation (or minimising the impact of the flu virus as its circulation increases).  This is an approach that has been adopted in most countries now. It is important to remember that the vast majority of cases that have been seen so far are mild with many cases possibly unaware that they have been infected.  (See here for information on the symptoms of influenza and advice on the how to look after someone who has flu).

Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 can however cause problems in people in certain at-risk groups, and these include people with chronic respiratory, heart, kidney, liver or neurological disease; immunosuppression (whether caused by disease or treatment); diabetes mellitus; haemoglobinopathies; people aged 65 years and older; children under 5 years old; people on medication for asthma, severely obese people (BMI ≥40) and pregnant women. 

The current strategy targets resources towards ensuring appropriate treatment of cases and providing clear information to the public on prevention and on what to do if they become ill.  In particular, resources are focused on the protection and early treatment of people who may be at risk of more severe illness. 

Information for the General Public can be found on the websites of the HPSC, the HSE and the Department of Health and Children. Frequently Asked Questions are available here and the HSE and the Department of Health and Children have produced an important document Information And Medical Advice Leaflet On Influenza A(H1N1).

Health Professionals: should visit the section of the HPSC website providing Advice for Health Care Staff for important clinical and public health information, including algorithms to guide patient management.

Case Numbers and Latest News : Case numbers are being reported on a weekly basis and are available here. The most recent report from ECDC on Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 worldwide is available from the ECDC website here.  The World Health Organization's Weekly Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 update is available at the WHO Disease Outbreak News section here.

Travel: The current travel advice of the Department of Health and Children is available here.

Symptoms of Influenza: The symptoms and signs of influenza are available here. If you develop an influenza-like illness, you should stay at home and telephone the HSE Flu Information Line on Freephone 1800 941100.  If you have severe symptoms, or are in a high risk group, contact your GP/family doctor by telephone.

Specialist Information: Pandemic Influenza Preparedness for Ireland: Advice of the Pandemic Influenza Expert Group is available here. The National Pandemic Influenza Plan is available here. For further information for health professionals see here.

Other relevant information