Institute of Public Health (FHI) officials say there is no reason to be concerned about the current spate of Swine Flu (H1N1) in Norway.
According to regional paper Nordlys, there are many incidents of the Swine Flu in Nord-Norge. Eastern Norway’s Bærum hospital personnel tell local paper Asker og Bærums Budstikke two younger non-risk group people have been admitted there.
State broadcaster NRK reports, Wednesday, 24 people in southern Norway have been diagnosed with the illness, though senior medical staff says they do not believe their conditions to be serious.
“What we can say is that we do have some cases of this type of influenza, but these are just part of many respiratory diseases total,” Hanne Nøkleby, division of infectious diseases director tells The Foreigner.
In Rogaland, western Norway, Stavanger University Hospital’s infectious diseases physician Jon Sundal tells NRK that, “there are a large number of patients with respiratory disease. It may be common pneumonia and can be influenza.”
The FHI’s Hanne Nøkleby to The Foreigner that the situation looks worse because “there is a lot of pressure on hospitals at the moment, but H1N1 is only part of this.
“Many labs have been closed due to the Christmas holidays, meaning a lower rate of testing.”
“We are also really just at the start of this year’s influenza season, which begins in October, but we do expect a rise in flu cases during the next few weeks. We’re now in the third week of about eight before the rate starts to decline,” she adds, stating there is no indication the current H1N1 strain is different to 2009’s.
NRK writes there have been 181 cases of Swine Flu at Ahus University Hospital since November last year, 72 in the last two weeks before Christmas.
An 11-year-old Porsgrunn boy died last week after being admitted with the Swine Flu to Oslo's Rikshospitalet University Hospital.
The FHI says between 10 and 15 percent of Norway’s population (up to about 750,000) contract the flu annually.
They particularly recommend individuals in the following risk-groups take the vaccine:
- Those who are 65 years or older.
- Residents of care and nursing homes.
- Pregnant women, especially in the 2nd and 3rd trimester.
- Adults and children with chronic respiratory diseases, particularly those with reduced lung capacity.
- Adults and children with chronic cardiovascular disease, especially those with severe heart failure, low cardiac output or pulmonary hypertension.
- Adults and children with impaired immunity against infection.
- Adults and children with diabetes mellitus (both type 1 and type 2).
- Adults and children with chronic renal failure.
- Adults and children with chronic liver failure.
- Adults and children with chronic neurological disease or injury.
- Adults and children with extremely severe obesity, i.e. a body mass index (BMI) of over 40 kg/m2.
- Health personnel who are more exposed to infection and also risk infecting their patients if becoming ill themselves.
For most people, however, the flu is a temporary illness that subsides itself without requiring medical treatment, according to the FHI.
Though complications sometimes arise that require hospitalisation – including in intensive care – this is something hospitals observe each year.
Officials also say non-risk group people can still visit their doctor and be vaccinated, with the vaccine requiring one to two weeks before giving good protective effect.
At the same time, the FHI also states that, “it appears that the level of protective antibodies in those vaccinated with Pandemrix in 2009, or who were ill during the pandemic, could have fallen so much that one cannot rely on that protection is still adequate.”
This year’s vaccine covers the Influenza B, swine flu H1N1, and H3N2 (so-called A) strains.
In closing, FHI officials advise remembering:
- Do not cough at others if you are ill.
- Children get the flu more often than adults do. Most children come through the infection without medical attention.
- Make sure children get enough liquids and nutrition.
- Consult a doctor promptly if the child seems dehydrated, has shortness of breath, is difficult to obtain contact with, or if you are worried about your child.