27th April 2009
Anyone suffering flu-like symptoms who has travelled from Mexico, and other parts of Central or North America over the past two weeks, should stay at home and phone their doctor for medical advice immediately.
Health officials in Mexico and the United States are managing outbreaks of the swine influenza (H1N1) and there are concerns the strain may have reached New Zealand shores.
The Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) acted immediately on Saturday after learning a group of people from Rangitoto and Northcote Colleges who had travelled from Mexico were suffering flu-like symptoms.
Testing for influenza and the swine strain of influenza began immediately, with the last of the swabs taken at around 1am today.
To date, 10 Aucklanders have been confirmed to have influenza A and ARPHS is awaiting results from the World Health Organisation laboratory to determine whether the strain is swine flu. Results from Northcote College students are pending.
ARPHS Clinical Director, Dr Julia Peters, says ARPHS is working closely with the affected parties, general practitioners, airlines and concerned travellers. However, there were important messages to get out to the wider public.
“ARPHS has been inundated with calls from people who were on the same flights as the affected students so we urge those people to phone their general practitioner for advice and instructions if they are feeling flu-like,” says Dr Peters.
“Another important message is to people who might be feeling well, but have been within two metres of someone that has recently travelled to the areas of concern and has the flu, as these people will need to stay at home and phone their doctor immediately.”
Dr Peters said ARPHS had also fielded calls from members of the general public, who have not visited Mexico or the five states of concern, nor been in contact with any people.
“It is understandable there is so much concern out there, as we are of course entering into the winter flu season as well. Our advice is that if you are well and have not visited an area of concern or been in contact with someone that has, then you should continue your daily life as normal.”
Dr Peters says ARPHS has today set up a freephone 0800 number to cope with the call influx. The number is 0800 FLU LINE or 0800 358 5463 and it will be answered by nurses and public health staff offering advice and assistance.
With regard to the action ARPHS is taking at the at the Auckland Airport, we are asking people who have symptoms, and have been in areas of concern, to make themselves known to the cabin crew for assessment by an ARPHS doctor. Doctors and nurses from ARPHS are meeting these passengers when they disembark from North American flights. Other members of the public are being provided with information and advice about how to take care of themselves and what to do if they develop symptoms.
All passenger and crew that travelled on NZ1 on 25 April 2009 arriving in New Zealand at 5am are being treated with Tamiflu.
The Northcote College group arrived on NZ5 in New Zealand on 25 April 2009 at 6.30am.
Flu-like symptoms = fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches, fatigue.
Summary of our advice for members of the New Zealand public regarding swine influenza
If you were a passenger on Air New Zealand Flight NZ1 from Los Angeles arriving in Auckland at FIVE AM on 25/04/2009 please contact your local Public Health Service urgently to discuss the possible need for protective measures such as antiviral medication.
If you are a close contact you must stay at home and telephone your local Public Health Service urgently for advice if you haven’t already been contacted. A close contact is someone who has been within 2 metres (6 feet) of someone who:
- has visited an area of concern in the last two weeks and
- has flu-like symptoms and
- has been told by a doctor that they may have swine flu
If you have visited an area of concern (Mexico specifically, as well as other parts of Central and North America) within the past 2 weeks and you develop flu like symptoms (running/blocked nose, sore throat, cough) then stay at home and telephone your General Practitioner for medical advice immediately.
If you have visited an area of concern and you are well and you are not a close contact then get on with your everyday life: but if you develop flu like symptoms then stay at home and telephone your General Practitioner for medical advice immediately.
Contact details for the Auckland Regional Public Health Service:
Auckland Regional Public Health Service phone 0800 FLU LINE or 0800 3585463
Anyone who has travelled to Mexico or North America in the last fortnight can contact the Ministry of Health hotline (0800 611 116) for information.
For further information contact: Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) Contact
021 938 431
623 4600 x 27135