40 cases of potentially fatal swine flu confirmed in Southern Trust area

editorial image

A total of 40 local patients have been diagnosed with the potentially deadly H1N1 strain of the flu virus – once known as swine flu, it has been confirmed by the Department of Health.

The number of cases, which were discovered within the Southern Trust area including Dungannon District, was the second highest of the trust areas in Northern Ireland, with Belfast Trust reporting the greatest incidence of cases at 71.

In February, a man died from the virus at Craigavon Area Hospital. It is understood that he was also suffering from other conditions.

The H1N1 flu strain shot to prominence in 2009 when the World Health Organisation declared a global swine flu pandemic.

The outbreak killed nearly 30 people in Northern Ireland.Most of those who died had other serious illnesses.

H1N1 has since become more common and outbreaks are seen most winters.

H1N1 particularly affects children, pregnant women and adults with long-term conditions like chronic heart disease, liver disease, neurological disease and respiratory disease.

Tips for preventing the spread of flu include maintaining good hygiene, covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, disposing of the tissue as soon as possible and cleaning your hands as soon you can.

Agriculture Minister Michele O’Neill said the disease in animals is being monitored by her department.

A spokesperson for the department said: “Influenza A in animals is a notifiable disease and DARD requires notification as a result of laboratory confirmation. The most recent case of Influenza A in pigs here was in March 2015. There is no current outbreak.

“The finding of swine flu (H1N1) is not unexpected as the virus is circulating within the human population and since 2009 has been one of the strains of flu routinely included in the human seasonal flu vaccine.”