Aug 20, 2010 (CIDRAP News) India and New Zealand are still the world's hot spots for pandemic H1N1 flu activity, with flu and other respiratory illness activity low in most of the Southern Hemisphere, which is nearing the end of its winter flu season, the World Health Organization (WHO)said today.
In New Zealand, doctor visits for flulike illnesses rose sharply in early August, and areas that were less affected during the country's first pandemic flu wave last summer seem especially hard hit, the WHO said. However, the numbers of severe and fatal cases are still below levels seen with New Zealand's first wave.
Earlier this week, New Zealand's health ministry said it would start issuing flu updates twice a week, given the surge in pandemic flu activity. In its update yesterday the ministry said 14 people were currently in intensive care units with pandemic flu infections and that it had received reports of three more deaths, raising the total number this year to nine.
The ministry said the flu phone line fielded more than 2,000calls last week, about the same as during the first pandemic wave.
In India, pandemic H1N1 transmission is still moderately intense in several states, especially Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu, the WHO said. Maharashtra has reported a number of new fatal cases, and while the epidemic there doesn't seem to have peaked, the number of new cases appears to have slowed.
In Pune, Maharashtra's second largest city, school board officials will consider offering free pandemic H1N1 vaccinations in schools, the Times of India reported yesterday.
Other Indian states are reporting steady or declining pandemic flu activity, and seasonal influenza B viruses are circulating in the country, but at lower levels than pandemic H1N1, the WHO reported.
Elsewhere, unconfirmed media reports suggest local flu outbreaks in part of Argentina, the WHO said. In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, health officials said the number of pandemic flu cases increased 25% during the week that ended Aug 14, according to a Bernama report yesterday. Seven new clusters were reported from five states.
The WHO said it received two new reports of oseltamivir-resistant pandemic H1N1, raising the total to 304.
Aug 20 WHO influenza update
Aug 19 New Zealand health ministry flu update