Thu, Feb 12, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Health officials urge public to protect themselves from flu

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Health officials in Taipei County urged the public yesterday to take precautionary measures to avoid serious illness as the influenza season hits its peak.

The officials said, in one of the more severe cases, a 30-year-old nurse living in Banciao (板橋) died on Saturday after developing a fever and other flu symptoms a week earlier.

On Jan. 30, the nurse brought her two sons, aged three and five, to see a doctor because both children had runny noses and other flu symptoms. She later also developed a runny nose and a cough but did not pay attention to the symptoms. She went to see a doctor on Feb. 3 after the illness sapped her strength, but her condition deteriorated and she died of viral myocarditis four days later.

The officials warned that the peak flu season is not over yet, and said that those who develop flu-like symptoms should avoid going to public places, or wear face masks if they must go out.

To prevent the flu outbreak from spreading to schoolchildren, who are more vulnerable than other age groups, the Taipei County government has begun to distribute 86,800 facemasks to pupils in 217 public and private elementary schools in the county.

The officials said most cases of the flu this season are the swine H1N1 virus strain, which is resistant to Tamiflu, the mainstay antiviral drug.

Given that young children are at high risk for influenza complications, such as pneumococcal lung infection, county officials urged that children aged two to five who have not been vaccinated be immediately taken to health centers and medical institutions for free flu shots.

People who have flu symptoms, such as a fever, cough and sore throat, are also advised to immediately seek medical treatment and get plenty of rest to avoid developing serious, life-threatening complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis.

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