Three countries report growing flu activity

Jun 10, 2010 (CIDRAP News) – Some parts of India and Colombia are reporting increases in pandemic flu activity, along with some deaths, while New Zealand, which is beginning its regular flu season, is reporting a rise in flu-like illnesses, particularly in young children.

Yesterday India's health ministry said nine pandemic H1N1 flu fatalities have been reported so far in June, one from Karnataka state and four each from Maharashtra state and the city of Kerala, Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) reported. An official told the news service that the ministry saw a rise in pandemic flu cases following monsoon activity in the area at the end of May.

The official said health officials are on alert because they expect more monsoons, but added that the country is more prepared now that a domestically produced pandemic flu vaccine is available, with three more expected to launch soon.

Meanwhile, Colombian health officials are reporting increasing numbers of pandemic H1N1 infections, according to a Jun 8 Xinhua report. Bogota health officials recently warned the capital's residents not to let down their guard after the number of weekly cases in the city increased from 2 to 14.

The World Health Organization (WHO) in its past several weekly global flu surveillance reports has said it expects to see hot spots of infections rise and fall, though activity is low in most parts of the world.

New Zealand's health ministry said today that flu-like illnesses have increased slowly over the past 2 weeks, with general practitioners seeing more illness in young children and the country's flu line reporting a steady increase in calls, especially people calling about illnesses in young children.

The ministry said the predominant virus is likely to be the pandemic H1N1 strain and advised citizens to take precautions and receive the seasonal flu vaccine, which covers the pandemic virus.

New Zealand and other Southern Hemisphere countries are just starting their flu seasons. Australia recently reported a rise in upper-respiratory infections, but said most of it was from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). So far South Africa, where World Cup soccer competition begins tomorrow, has reported no increased flu activity, though it has warned travelers to be vaccinated.

See also:

Jun 9 IANS story

Jun 8 Xinhua story

Jun 10 New Zealand health ministry flu report

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