The Influenza Pandemic & Maori (VIDEO)

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Pandemic influenza its impacts and issues relating to Maori communities. (Kia ora to Mike Smith for highlighting this video)

The Northern Advocate has reported that evidence suggests that Maori are “10 times more likely to be admitted to hospital with severe swine flu symptoms than those of European descent, Northland’s public health chief says”.

Dr Jarman said the influenza pandemic had been less severe and less infectious than expected with around 11 per cent of the national population having been infected.

However, the expectation is there would likely be another upsurge in swine flu cases.

One of the characteristics of pandemics is the tendency to occur in waves,” he said.

When and how severe it will be is not known – it could start at anytime, but based on North America’s experiences,”it is likely to be early autumn, and be of similar or slightly worse in severity than a normal seasonal influenza virus.”

Dr Jarman said there was a probability of on-going, low level H1N1 cases and localised pockets of transmission during the summer months. Pandemic viruses are new viruses – no one has a natural immunity to them, so they can occur at anytime and are able to be passed on easily.

He said it was important for the public to remain vigilant to the signs and symptoms of the disease and to seek medical advice if the sick person is pregnant or obese, or has underlying medical conditions such as respiratory disease, heart disease, liver disease, blood disorders, is immuno-suppressed or has a neurological condition.

Healthline provides free advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Healthline 0800 611 116.

Dr Jarman said if the pandemic became more severe before March, the Government had a contingency plan to immunise front-line workers. The vaccine extension will cost an extra $2 million over the regular $14m annual cost. In an attempt to contain the pandemic, the Government has announced next year’s seasonal flu vaccine will contain the swine flu strain and will be available free to more people.

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