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Suspected Norfolk swine flu death probe

PUBLISHED: 07:00 30 July 2009 | UPDATED: 11:09 06 July 2010

Regional health bosses have confirmed they are investigating the death of a middle aged man in Norfolk from suspected swine flu.

The man, who died on Tuesday , had been prescribed Tamiflu, but it had still not been confirmed last night if he had contracted the H1N1 virus.

Regional health bosses have confirmed they are investigating the death of a middle-aged man in Norfolk from suspected swine flu.

The man, who died on Tuesday, had been prescribed Tamiflu, but it had still not been confirmed last night if he had contracted the H1N1 virus.

A spokeswoman for NHS East of England, the region's strategic health authority, said: "We are investigating the death of a middle- aged man from the Norfolk area. He had flu symptoms and was taking Tamiflu.

"Swabs are currently being taken in our laboratories to ascertain whether he had the virus. This could take several days."

The announcement came as health bosses in Norfolk confirmed that more than 5,300 doses of antiviral drugs had been given out so far in July, out of a supply of about 90,000.

Officials have reiterated that in most people the virus is "fairly mild" with many recovering from symptoms within a few days.

Access to Tamiflu increased last Thursday when a new 24-hour antiviral collection point was established in Norwich, in addition to about 30 community pharmacists who already supply the drug.

Nationally, it has been revealed that pregnant women are four times more likely than the general population to be admitted to hospital if they contract swine flu.

An article published online in The Lancet has quantified the extra risk swine flu poses during pregnancy for the first time since the outbreak began.

Pregnant women who do contract swine flu should start treatment with antiviral drugs as soon as possible, the article said.

It is thought that pregnant women are at greater risk because their immune system is slightly weakened while they carry a baby.

Meanwhile, people are being reminded to be prepared for swine flu by establishing a "flu friend" network. A friend can be a relative, neighbour or friend who will be able to collect medicines, food and other supplies.

This will help restrict the potential spread of flu to others.

It is recommended that people should identify up to five "flu friends", who can be trusted with personal details.

In addition, people could consider becoming a "flu friend" to a vulnerable person in their area.

The National Pandemic Flu Service line is 0800 1 513 100 and the website is www.direct.gov.uk/pandemicflu.

The website service is available 24 hours a day, while the telephone line is open from 8am to midnight, seven days a week.

Anyone who does not have symptoms and purely wants information on swine flu should continue to call the Flu Information Line on 0800 1 513 513. This is remaining in place alongside the new service.

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