Thursday, June 4, 2009

Australia broadens testing for swine flu

27 May 2009
Magazine issue 2710.

Editorial: Swine flu: Will it be like SARS?
EUROPE might baulk at the measures needed to find out how far swine flu has spread - not so Australia. The country reported its first cases of community-acquired swine flu last week, just as its flu season is beginning.
Most European countries are only testing people who have travelled to affected countries or come into contact with a person known to have swine flu, which means community-acquired infections are virtually guaranteed to go unnoticed. This could mean swine flu is spreading undetected in Europe.
In contrast, on Saturday, Australia's Chief Medical Officer Jim Bishop announced that anyone with a high fever and flu symptoms would be tested for swine flu regardless of their travel history. 

"We've started to look for cases more aggressively," says David Smith, director of PathWest Laboratories in Perth.

He hopes the strategy will "spread the load over a longer time, so that the health system can cope more easily". Europe may feel it has to follow suit.

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