HUMAN SWINE INFLUENZA INVESTIGATION
Human cases of a new form of influenza virus have been identified in the United States and Mexico . The virus is a type of influenza A virus that is usually seen in pigs ("swine influenza").
No cases of swine influenza have been confirmed in New South Wales or Australia .
The World Health Organization has declared the swine influenza situation to be a public health event of international significance.
Pandemic alert levels have not been raised by the World Health Organization or by the Australian Government.
This event is of concern because:
• Swine influenza is derived from an animal influenza virus, which means that humans are likely to have little or no immunity to the virus
• There has been rapid spread to multiple communities overseas
• Swine influenza is affecting unusual age groups (healthy, young adults).
The swine influenza virus is thought to be sensitive to the latest antiviral drugs oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza).
For the most up-to-date information on the number of overseas confirmed cases of swine influenza please see:
The World Health Organization website:
and the United States CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/investigation.htm
New South Wales is performing enhanced surveillance for the new swine influenza virus, by encouraging testing of people presenting with influenza-like illness or pneumonia who have recently returned from affected areas in the United States and Mexico .
NSW Health is working very closely with State and Commonwealth Government agencies to investigate and respond to this situation.
What you can do?
Influenza is spread from person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people. There are many things you can do to prevent getting and spreading influenza:
Cover your mouth when you cough, and wash your hands regularly.
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the garbage bin after you use it.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
• Influenza is spread from person-to-person through coughing or sneezing. Stay away from people who are sick.
• If you get sick, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to avoid infecting them.
For more information, see the Swine Flu Fact Sheet:
Advice for recently returned travellers
If you have returned from the United States or Mexico within the last 7 days, and are feeling unwell with any flu-like symptoms, such as cough, fever, headache, joint aches and pains, fatigue, nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea, please contact your local Public Health Unit: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/publichealth/Infectious/phus.asp
or go to your nearest hospital emergency department and tell them that you have recently returned from overseas and may have flu.
Advice for clinicians
Clinicians should consider the possibility of swine influenza A virus (H1N1) infection in patients who have:
a) an influenza-like illness (fever and cough and fatigue) and who have travelled to Mexico or United States of America within the past seven days
b) pneumonia and who have travelled to Mexico or United States of America within the past seven days.
If swine flu is suspected, please isolate the patient, notify your local Public Health Unit: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/publichealth/Infectious/phus.asp safely obtain a viral nose and throat swab for swine influenza testing and send it immediately to ICPMR at Westmead Hospital , or SEALS at Prince of Wales Hospital.
Please see the advice to clinicians from the Chief Medical Officer:
Advice for laboratories
Laboratories should send all specimens with requests for swine influenza testing to ICPMR at Westmead Hospital , or SEALS at Prince of Wales Hospital as soon as possible.
Please see the laboratory testing instructions for swine influenza:
Professor Steven Boyages