NZ Students Tested For Swine Flu

A group of students from Rangitoto College returning from Mexico yesterday morning have tested positive for Influenza A.

The students, who were on flight NZ1 from Los Angeles, are awaiting results of further tests to determine if they have contracted the Influenza A H1N1 subtype, also known as Swine Flu.

“Health Minister Tony Ryall said: “Ministry of Health officials advise me there is no guarantee these students have swine influenza, but they consider it likely.

“However, I am also informed none of the affected patients are considered seriously ill, and most in fact seem to be on the road to recovery.”

The ten students had tested positive for Influenza A, and their results would be sent to the World Health Organisation laboratory in Australia to ascertain whether it was the H1N1 swine influenza, Mr Ryall said.”

A group of students from another Auckland school, Northcote College who also returned home from Mexico that day on flight NZ5 are being monitored by health officials, three of started to develop flu like symptoms but were later cleared.

Pinehurst and Westlake Girls High Schools were reported as presently having students groups visiting Mexico who have yet to return to New Zealand.

Pinehurst School later issued a release saying that Health Minister Tony Ryall’s information was wrong and NO students from the school were in Mexico, but were in Argentina which was unaffected by the outbreak

John Key has been reported as saying that “the plan set up since the 2003 bird flu scare meant New Zealand had good stocks of the anitviral drug Tamiflu – about 1.4 million treatments and the single gateway into New Zealand via Auckland meant control was easier.”

New Zealand also has international airports at Christchurch (which receives passengers from Australia, Asia and the Middle East) Wellington, Queenstown and Dunedin.

Swine Flu FAQs
The World Health Organisation has published a FAQ on Swine Flu, covering the following questions:

• What is swine influenza?
• What are the implications for human health?
• Where have human cases occurred?
• How do people become infected?
• Is it safe to eat pork meat and products?
• What about the pandemic risk?
• Is there a human vaccine to protect swine influenza?
• What drugs are available for treatment?

With reference to treatment

“Antiviral drugs for seasonal influenza are available in some countries and effectively prevent and treat the illness. There are two classes of such medicines, 1) adamantanes (amantadine and remantadine), and 2) inhibitors of influenza neuraminidase (oseltamivir* and zanamivir).
Most of the previously reported swine influenza cases recovered fully from the disease without requiring medical attention and without antiviral medicines.

Some influenza viruses develop resistance to the antiviral medicines, limiting the effectiveness of chemoprophylaxis and treatment. The viruses obtained from the recent human cases with swine influenza in the United States were sensitive to oselatmivir* and zanamivir but resistant to amantadine and remantadine.

Information is insufficient to make recommendation on the use of the antivirals in prevention and treatment of swine influenza virus infection. Clinicians have to make decisions based on the clinical and epidemiological assessment and harms and benefit of the prophylaxis/treatment of the patient.

For the ongoing outbreak of the swine influenza infection in the United States and Mexico, the
national and the local authorities are recommending to use oseltamivir* or zanamivir for treatment and prevention of the disease based on the virus’s susceptibility profile.”

* Oseltamivir is marketed under the trade name of Tamiflu

H1N1 Warning Given a Year Ago
Replikins Ltd released a statement on 8 April 2008 stating that H1N1 was replicating rapidly and may succeed H5N1 as the leading candidate for the next expected pandemic.

Further information about this suspected outbreak can be found on the WHO website, Wikipedia and other news sites