Thu, Aug 20, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Two swine flu cluster infections confirmed

OF NURSES AND PATIENTS With hospitals being hit by cluster infections, health authorities are instructing the population to avoid hospitals if at all possible

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH CNA

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday confirmed two swine flu cluster infections affecting doctors and nurses at two major hospitals in northern and southern Taiwan.

Authorities confirmed that National Taiwan University (NTU) Hospital in Taipei was one of the two affected hospitals, but did not name the second.

CDC Spokesman Lin Ting (林頂) said 11 individuals at NTU hospital had symptoms of swine flu and that four nurses and one patient had been confirmed as contracting the virus.

The patient was a severe case and was being treated at the hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU).

The patient was the nation’s 26th confirmed case of severe swine flu and the first recorded at a hospital, official statistics showed.

“The patient is a 45-year-old female with several other chronic conditions. She is slowly recovering, although she is remaining in ICU,” Lin said.

“The four nurses are on sick leave and staying at home to recover,” Lin said.

All four nurses and the patient fell ill between Aug. 13 and Aug. 14, Huang said, adding that initial epidemiological assessments ruled out the possibility of the patient and nurses being infected by the same source.

“It is likely that the patient and nurses contracted the virus from different sources, probably other patients, caregivers or family members and friends who visited the patient,” Huang said.

The cluster infection was now under control and there were not signs that it had spread elsewhere, Huang said.

In addition to disinfecting the patient’s room, Huang said, the hospital activated its infection control mechanism and tightened monitoring of patients with fevers and sore throats. Outpatients and emergency room patients with fevers were separated from other patients to contain the virus, he said.

Regarding the hospital in the south, Huang said that 18 people — one doctor and 17 nurses — showed symptoms. Five were confirmed swine flu cases.

“We urge people not to visit hospitals unless it is really necessary,” Lin said. “Given the nature of the facilities, there is a higher risk of infection at hospitals.”

The spokesman said that five other cluster infections, including the above cases, were reported yesterday.

In addition to the two hospital cluster infections, Lin said, two occurred at junior high schools and one at a cram school in Jhonghe City (中和), Taipei County.

Lin said that the CDC’s latest statistics showed there have been 48 swine flu cluster infections and 28 severe cases across Taiwan.

“If you have to go to hospital, remember to wear a surgical mask and to wash your hands,” Lin said.

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