THE SWINE flu virus that swept the world last year causing a global health emergency has returned to claim the lives of 10 adults in the UK in the past six weeks. The 10 deaths were in younger adults under 65 and associated with H1N1 swine flu. Most had underlying conditions but “a small proportion” were healthy before getting the virus, according to the Health Protection Agency (HPA).
Seasonal flu normally causes severe illness and death in the elderly. The H1N1 swine flu virus targets pregnant women, younger adults, and those with chronic conditions, making it a cause of particular alarm.
No other similar reports of deaths linked with swine flu have been received from elsewhere in Europe. Official figures show GP consultations for flu-like illness in England were at 13.3 per 100,000 population last week, well below baseline levels.
Flu experts expressed surprise at the relatively high incidence of deaths and severe illness in the context of the low consultation rates. John Watson, head of respiratory diseases at the HPA said: “We seem to be in the vanguard on this. Other European countries are just beginning to see some H1N1 activity.”
Calls to NHS Direct and other indicators show there is “quite a lot” of H1N1 swine flu about, despite the low GP consultation rate.
Around 30pc of those who fell ill, went to their GP and got tested for the virus, were coming up positive for H1N1, which was a high rate. (© Independent News Service)
- Jeremy Laurence in London