December 12, 2010

H1N1 Breaks Out In Britain, Claims 10 Lives

Health officials said Saturday that the H1N1 swine flu virus has returned to Britain, leaving 10 people dead in the last six weeks.

Britain's Health Protection Agency said that the 10 deaths occurred in adults over the age of 65, most of whom had underlying health issues.

"Over the last few weeks, we have seen a rise in the number of cases of seasonal flu both H1N1 (2009) and flu B in the community," Professor John Watson, head of the HPA's respiratory diseases department, said in a statement.

"We have also received reports of patients with serious illness requiring hospitalization and outbreaks of flu in schools across the country."

The swine flu broke out in March 2009 and quickly spread across the globe.  The World Health Organization (WHO) said that the H1N1 virus has taken about 18,450 lives, including many pregnant women and young people.

WHO declared the pandemic to be over in August 2010.

Watson told the Independent newspaper that Britain appeared to be the "vanguard" of the latest outbreak with other European countries beginning to see some swine flu cases.

The HPA said that it was often the case that a pandemic strain became the most common seasonal strain during the next flu season.

An HPA spokeswoman said that there was an increase in the amount of flu cases being reported at doctors' surgeries across Britain, but this was expected over the winter season.

"In terms of actual numbers of cases of flu, it's nothing unusual," she said in a statement.


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