Thursday, August 27, 2009

Weekly pandemic flu media update

27 August 2009
  • This week there has been a further reduction in the rates of flu-like illness and related activity.
  • Weekly GP consultation rates continued to decrease over the last week in England.  
  • The majority of cases continue to be mild. There is no sign that the virus is changing. It is not becoming more severe or developing resistance to anti-virals.
  • Interpretation of data to produce estimates on the number of new cases continues to be subject to a considerable amount of uncertainty. HPA modelling gives an estimate of 5,000 new cases in England last week (range 3,000 to 12,000). There has been a decrease in estimated number of cases in all age groups and in all regions.
    This estimate incorporates data from National Pandemic Flu Service and GP consultations.

Following the move from laboratory testing for confirmation of swine flu to clinical diagnosis of cases, the level of flu in the community is being monitored using a range of surveillance mechanisms, including the RCGP consultation rates, QSurveillance®, and the National Pandemic Flu Service.
A more detailed UK weekly epidemiology update can be accessed at:

Figure 1: Current estimated weekly RCGP consultation rates of flu-like illness
Figure 1: Current estimated weekly RCGP consultation rates of flu-like illnessFigure 2: QSurveillance® - weekly consultation rate for flu-like illness in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (all ages)
Figure 2: QSurveillance® – weekly consultation rate for flu-like illness in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (all ages)
Viral characteristics (including antiviral susceptibility (as at 26/08/09): Testing for antiviral susceptibility is carried out by the Agency's Respiratory Virus Unit, Centre for Infections, in Colindale. 719 viruses have been analysed for the marker commonly associated with resistance to oseltamivir in seasonal influenza (H274Y); none were found to carry this marker. In addition, 210 specimens have been fully tested for susceptibility; all were found to be sensitive to oseltamivir and zanamivir.  
Disease severity continues to be monitored. The disease is generally mild in most people so far, but is proving severe in a small minority of cases.
Swine flu hospitalisations in England: 218 patients (currently hospitalised as of 8am on 26 August).
Deaths - the number of deaths related to swine flu in England is 57. (This figure represents the number of deaths in individuals with swine flu but does not represent the number of deaths that can be attributed to swine flu).
Confirmed cases and deaths reported by ECDC (Update 17:00 CEST 25 August 2009)
Grand total of cases confirmed *
Total deaths reported
* This figure represents the number of laboratory confirmed cases and is therefore not representative of the actual number of cases worldwide.
In the last 7 days, cases reported globally have increased by 8% and the number of deaths by 21%.
In the latest Euroflu bulletin, all countries reported low or moderate intensity indicating a normal or slightly increased proportion of their populations were affected by respiratory illness.  Widespread activity was reported for Austria, Israel, England and Sweden The majority of new confirmed cases are being reported from Germany (ECDC).
General infection control practices and good respiratory hand hygiene can help to reduce transmission of all viruses, including swine flu. This includes:
  • Maintaining good basic hygiene, for example washing hands frequently with soap and water to reduce the spread of virus from your hands to face or to other people.
  • Cleaning hard surfaces (e.g. door handles) frequently using a normal cleaning product.
  • Covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, using a tissue when possible.
  • Disposing of dirty tissues promptly and carefully.
  • Making sure your children follow this advice. 
Further information on swine flu is available on the Health Protection Agency's website at

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