Page last updated at 12:23 GMT, Tuesday, 21 July 2009 13:23 UK

Increase in Welsh swine flu cases


GPs in Wales have been inundated with calls from people with flu-like symptoms

A rapid increase in swine flu cases in Wales is indicated in latest figures.

National Public Health Service (NPHS) for Wales estimates put those with flu-like symptoms at more than 2,300, compared with some 500 a week earlier.

They suggest that the highest numbers are in Newport, the Vale of Glamorgan and Wrexham.

The NPHS said levels were "low but increasing," and GPs in Wales said the "vast majority" of people will recover quickly after mild illness.

Figures show 77.1 cases of a "flu-like illness" diagnosed by GPs out of every 100,000 people in Wales, the equivalent to 2,313 people in Wales contacting their GPs in the last seven days with flu-like symptoms.

In most cases, it will be a mild illness and the vast majority of people will recover quickly by taking paracetamol or ibuprofen, and drinking plenty of fluids
Dr David Bailey, BMA Welsh GP committee

The NPHS said not all of these people would have swine flu and not everyone with flu-like symptoms would contact their GP.

But officials expect that the proportion of cases will increase as the virus spreads in Wales.

The highest rate of diagnosis is 143.8 per 100,000 people in Newport, and the lowest 25.9 per 100,000 in Neath Port Talbot.

So far there are 77 confirmed cases in Wales, with six new ones.

Three of the new cases are Denbighshire teenagers aged 13, 15 and 17 linked to travel from Spain. The others are women aged 24, 26 and 44 from Newport, Carmarthen and Neath Port Talbot respectively.

Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, using a tissue where possible
Dispose of tissues promptly and carefully
Wash hands frequently with soap and water
Clean hard surfaces such as door handles regularly with a normal cleaning product
Help your children to follow hygiene advice
Source: National Public Health Service for Wales/Welsh Assembly Government

Dr David Bailey, chairman of the BMA's Welsh GP committee said: "It is understandable that people will be worried when they hear about the potential number of fatalities that may arise due to the pandemic.

"It should be remembered that these are worst case scenarios to enable government to plan.

"We urge everyone to follow the recommended advice and telephone their doctor or NHS Direct, rather than physically going to the surgery if they have symptoms and are concerned.

"In most cases, it will be a mild illness and the vast majority of people will recover quickly by taking paracetamol or ibuprofen, and drinking plenty of fluids.

"Anyone who is not recovering quickly or who is in a more vulnerable group, for example young children, pregnant women, those with underlying health conditions, should get extra advice as a small number will need more intensive treatment.

"The message we need to get across is it's a pandemic flu - this is new, we haven't seen this before and yes, most of us will probably catch it.

"We must remember that every year there are deaths from complications of seasonal flu; this is unfortunately inevitable with any strain of influenza, but following the recommended advice will minimise the risk."

Doctors advise using "simple but effective" hygiene measures such as frequent hand-washing, covering your mouth with a tissue when coughing and sneezing, and putting the tissue into a bin.

People are advised that if they develop flu-like symptoms they should stay at home and check them using the various sources of information supplied - by leaflet, 24-hour telephone information lines or websites.

Experts say that for most people the illness is mild and gets better within five to seven days. Anybody with severe symptoms is urged to contact their GP or NHS Direct services.

NHS Direct can be contacted on 0845 46 47.

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