Australia: Swine Flu Causes Mild Illness

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Seven residents from the remote Goldfields’ Aboriginal community of Kiwirrkurra have tested positive for human swine influenza. The swabs were taken by public health staff during a visit to Kiwirrkurra last Tuesday after a 26-year-old man from the community, who tested positive for the virus, died in Royal Adelaide Hospital on 19 June. Acting Director Communicable Disease Control Dr Paul Effler said the seven residents had mild respiratory symptoms and all were now well.

"This is consistent with what we know about the virus - that in most people human swine influenza is a mild illness,” he said.

“In general, it’s people with existing medical conditions who appear to be more vulnerable to severe illness. That’s why pregnant women and people who have a high risk condition such as respiratory disease, heart disease, diabetes, renal disease, obesity or a weakened immune system should consult their health care provider if they develop influenza-like symptoms.”

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Dr Effler said WA Health had provided Tamiflu and personal protective equipment to the people providing health services in Aboriginal communities throughout Western Australia.

"Local health services are increasing their monitoring of influenza-like illness and are advising communities that people with risk factors who develop flu-like symptoms should seek medical attention early on,” he said.

A 26-year-old Perth woman became the second Western Australian to die after being diagnosed with human swine influenza.

The woman was being treated for an underlying medical condition in the intensive care unit at Royal Perth Hospital and died late on Friday evening.

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