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Swine flu spreading faster in Britain than rest of Europe

03. January 2011. | 07:36

Source: MIA

Swine flu has spread more rapidly in Britain than in the rest of Europe, the World Health Organization has revealed, as the Government faces growing criticism over the country's preparations for an epidemic.

Swine flu has spread more rapidly in Britain than in the rest of Europe, the World Health Organization has revealed, as the Government faces growing criticism over the country's preparations for an epidemic.

Experts have warned that the surge in flu cases in Britain has still not yet peaked and say the number of cases will continue to rise rapidly over the next two to four weeks, reads "The Telegraph".

Figures released by the WHO show the rate of influenza-like illnesses is still low across continental Europe but has risen dramatically in Britain since the flu season began in October. The majority are swine flu cases.

There are currently 738 patients now receiving intensive care treatment for flu in the UK and at least 17 have required life support because their heart and lungs have failed.

The death toll from the virus now sits at 39, with 36 of the victims dying of the H1N1 swine flu virus.

It comes as the Government was forced to defend the country's level of preparedness against the flu outbreak.

The Department of Health denied claims the country was facing a national shortage of the flu vaccine after some doctors surgeries reported they were running out of stocks.

The Government also relaunched its national flu prevention campaign on Saturday in an attempt to quell the rising number of flu cases.

In its weekly influenza bulletin, the WHO said: "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) has been experiencing a surge in both mild and severe cases for the last three weeks which has not yet peaked.

"On the European continent, rates of respiratory disease are still relatively low but the number of countries reporting influenza detections are increasing."

Influenza experts said it was not entirely clear why Britain appeared to have so many more cases early in the flu season compared to the rest of Europe, but it could be attributed to traditional movements of families around the country in the run up to Christmas and New Year.

Statistics released by the Department of Health on Christmas Eve showed that 460 people were receiving intensive treatment for flu.

However, according to the latest figures there are now 738 patients receiving the same level of care – including 42 youngsters under five.

Many of the victims have not been vaccinated and all except one of the 39 victims to have died were under 65 while four were under the age of five.

A spokesman for the Department of Health reiterated that there was no national shortage of the flu vaccine.

She said: "GPs have already been asked to check their stocks. If they have run out, they have already been advised to work with neighbouring practices or the PCT to obtain further supplies.

"The vaccine manufacturers and suppliers still have stocks available for ordering."


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