News

27-10-2014

Many thousands of people are expected in Albany for the weekend of November 1st 2014, to commemorate and reflect on a 100 years since the first convoy set sail from Albany with 3000 WA troops joining the Australian and New Zealand convoy leaving for Gallipoli and the First World War.

World War 1, is medically linked to the first of the two known pandemics involving the Influenza A ( H1N1) virus. This virus infected 500 million people across the world and is estimated to have killed 3-5% of the world's population at that time. Unusually, the virus killed previously healthy young adults , in contrast to outbreaks affecting the very young, elderly and already ill. To maintain morale, wartime censors minimised the reports of illness and mortality in England, France,Germany and the U.S. In Spain ( neutral) reports were released , giving the impression that Spain was more severely affected, thus the nickname "Spanish Flu "

Several infectious  disease research centres have been able to study tissue from those known to have died in the pandemic and isolate the virus type. The biological properties contributing to the virulence of the influenza are poorly understood, and reconstructing the 1918 virus has been undertaken to help devise strategies for diagnosis,treatment and prevention and improve general principles for antiviral drugs and interventions.

The most recent influenza pandemic ( a global outbreak of flu, where a new strain  of virus occurs against which people have little or no resistance) was initially reported in Mexico in April 2009. This influenza strain was again found to be an influenza A and also H1N1 , causing more severe illness in fit and healthy young adults. Although no longer in pandemic proportions, it is expected to continue to circulate globally as a seasonal virus for some years.

In 2014, a total of 4787 cases of influenza have been notified to the Health Department to October. Most cases occurred between July to September, an average of between 33 - 50% have been identified as being H1N1 infections.

The best way to reduce your chances of catching the flu is to have the annual vaccination. Each year a new vaccine containing the 3 most common strains of circulating influenza virus is produced.( this years vaccine did contain the H1N1 strain) Other strategies include frequently washing or sanitising hands, covering your nose and mouth when coughing, throwing away used tissues and staying home and restricting your contact with others if you have the flu.

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