Swine flu returns with a vengeance

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There are no signs of panic like there were last year, but state health authorities confirm that the number of cases of swine flu in Norway is rising quickly with 35 persons now admitted to hospital. Eleven of them are or have been in intensive care.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Thursday that a  young boy from Akershus has died, but from a seasonal flu virus, not swine flu (H1N1). Geir Stene-Larsen of state health institute FHI told NRK the boy was sick only a short time and his illness didn’t seen “alarming” in the beginning.

“In this case, it progressed unusually quickly,” Stene-Larsen told NRK. The boy was not in any special risk category, and his death prompted FHI to urge Norwegians to contact their doctors if they are ill and dehydrated, experience vomiting or have problems breathing and drinking.

“For most, influensa is a mild or moderate illness,” Stene-Larsen said. “Unfortunately some become very sick, and some die, even if you’re not in a risk group.”

The cases of swine flu have risen 10-fold from just three last week. One patient is an infant in Oslo, another a 56-year-old man from Molde who was transferred to St Olavs Hospital in Trondheim. Only two of the 11 patients now in hospital are women, while seven of the most seriously ill are aged 30-49, reports newspaper Dagsavisen.

Last year, 31 persons died from swine flu in Norway. Health officials are prepared that the virus can spread over the next few weeks. The most seriously patients are being sent to the National Hospital (Rikshospitalet) in Oslo.

Dr Egil Lingaas at Rikshospitalet said he was surprised by the outbreak in recent weeks, because so many Norwegians were vaccinated last year. “They should be at least partly immune,” Lingaas told Dagsavisen. “A lot of people also got sick with the swine flu, so should also be immune now.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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