Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Swines Spreading Flu

The number of Australians reportedly suffering "swine flu" - H1N1 Type A is NOT really swine flu -has grown significantly over the last 3 days to at least 65 cases. Many have returned from cruise ships, flown in from LA, or been in contact with those who have.

Many returning from the cruise ships have been told to stay in "home quarantine" for at least a week. However, it seems some parents didn't follow the message with sick teenagers being allowed to go to work at a fast food outlet at an Epping Plaza (northern Melbourne) shopping mall. The Mall, and food outlet were closed for some time. Such behaviour, from the parents, and the teenagers, is socially irresponsible. The teenagers might be forgiven for their naivete, but the parents ought to have known better.

So too, health authorities who allowed possibly infected passengers from the cruise ship Pacific Dawn to fly from Sydney to Queensland. Quarantine should have been in Sydney, at least until the blood test results were confirmed. Immigration, and Federal and State Health authorities have a responsibility to do more than say 'stay home for 7 days' - it is clear that more cases of this human swine flu are arriving in Australia, and that those identified as being at high risk need to be cleared by their GP before returning to work. While anti-viral drugs, such as Tamiflu, might help reduce the severity of symptoms, they are not a vaccine, and their widespread use would not be appropriate. A vaccine is not likely to be available till at least September.

This flu is apparently likely to be more severe in younger children, older people, and those who are otherwise frail. Most people will not suffer severe symptoms, yet they have a social responsibility to ensure that they are not responsible for spreading to other people. If you're told to stay home, stay home. If your children are sick, do not send them to school, sport, or work -keep them at home; yes that's inconvenient, but it IS socially responsible!