Victoria now has 1,011 confirmed cases of H1N1 human swine influenza, with a further 137 cases confirmed over the weekend.
Acting Chief Health Officer Dr Rosemary Lester said the state was focusing its treatment on members of the community most vulnerable to viral infections, such as the elderly, students at special development schools, hospital patients and people with a chronic illness.
“Victoria’s response to the H1N1 influenza virus is proportionate to the risk to the community,” Dr Lester said.
“These latest confirmed cases relate to tests done before Victoria moved to a modified Sustain Phase in response to the virus.
“Extensive testing for human swine flu is no longer required, as people meeting the agreed clinical case definition – exhibiting flu-like symptoms – are recommended to be given anti-viral medication in consultation with their doctor, ” she said.
Under the modified Sustain Phase of the plan, Victoria continues to provide treatment to people who have been confirmed with the H1N1 virus, and preventative treatment to their direct household members. Students with flu-like illness still go into home quarantine for three days.
As part of its modified Sustain Phase of the influenza plan, Victoria will:
Give antiviral treatment to those people exhibiting the agreed clinical case definition of human swine flu, together with their immediate household contacts;
Require cases to isolate themselves for three days following the commencement of antiviral treatment, but household contacts will not be required to be quarantined;
Maintain intensive contact tracing in high risk settings like aged care facilities, hospitals and special schools to protect those at greater risk of severe complications from human swine flu; and
Implement enhanced community-wide surveillance of influenza-like illness and undertake increased sampling to monitor the distribution of the virus and any changes in the dominant circulating influenza strain.
Dr Lester said the virus continued to be relatively mild in its impact, similar to the normal winter flu.
“People with mild influenza-like symptoms should recover at home. If they are moderately unwell, they should contact their doctor for the best possible advice,” she said.
“In a typical year, up to one million Australians will contract the normal winter flu.”
• Personal hygiene remains vital. We should all follow flu season hygiene procedures, such as regular hand washing, covering nose and mouth if sneezing and coughing, and staying at home if sick.
• Follow any instructions by health professionals on quarantining or limiting social contact;
• People who feel ill with influenza-like symptoms should present to their doctor for the best possible advice.
It is always wise to call ahead, or to alert the clinic staff when you arrive.
For the most up-to-date information: www.health.vic.gov.au
• Call the Influenza Hotline on 180 2007 or call Nurse-on-Call on 1300 60 60 24 for expert health information and advice (24 hours, 7 days).