16 July 2009

1 Million People in Ireland may get 'Swine Flu'

The Department of Health is warning that up to 1 million people in Ireland could become infected with influenza A (type H1N1) - popularly called 'swine flu' - over the autumn and winter of this year.

The department's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Tony Holohan (left), has sent a letter to all GPs and other medical professionals, alerting them to the fact that up to 25% of the population could catch the virus.
This would put significant strain on Irish family doctors, hospitals and intensive care facilities.

The letter was co-signed by Dr. Patrick Doorley, the National Director of Population Health, who told a conference in Dublin today that the anti-viral medicine 'Tamiflu', which is used to treat 'swine flu' symptoms, will be available in pharmacies in Ireland from tomorrow.

So far 144 people in Ireland are known to have contracted 'swine flu', which began to spread in Mexico during April of this year. (for more information see my entry of May 3rd)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is meanwhile warning that the flu virus is "unstoppable" and its Director General, Dr. Margaret Chan (right), indicated that the availability of a vaccine may be further away than had been anticipated.
Information from clinical trials is expected not to be available for another two or three months, and experts say that a new vaccine for the H1N1 influenza may not be ready until October.

Apart from Mexico, where the current epidemic started, the most affected countries so far are the USA and Britain.
I am no medical expert, but I wonder if the unhealthy living conditions and the very unhealthy lifestyle in the English-speaking countries might be contributing factors.

I am also trying not to make jokes in bad taste. But if Ireland would indeed see one in four of its residents being infected with 'swine flu' this year, the long-established nick name of our Minister for Health would become even more fitting than it is already.
Mary Harney (above) is for many years known as 'Miss Piggy'.

The Emerald Islander

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