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Swine flu test delay irks mum

A SECOND Warwick family has come forward with concerns about the lack of response from Warwick Hospital to a suspected swine flu case in as many days.

After the Daily News reported on Monday about a local mother whose 19-year-old son was turned away from the hospital after collapsing from a persistent cough, another mother has revealed her five-year-old son was sent away from the emergency room on three separate occasions before being found with the potentially deadly H1N1, or swine flu virus.

The mother in the first case was later confirmed as having swine flu herself, while other members of the second family to speak to the Daily News have not contracted the disease.

The mother of the five-year-old boy, who asked not to be named, said he had been suffering from temperatures as high as 40 degrees before she first took him to Warwick Hospital, where she claims staff told her to “get him some Demazin”.

When the normally-healthy child's soaring temperatures persisted along with fatigue and bouts of vomiting, his mother went back to hospital on two more occasions while growing increasingly concerned about the possibility of swine flu.

“It wasn't until the fourth time we went up there last Thursday night one of the doctors decided to do the test for swine flu,” she said.

“He really should have been tested straight away and that way he could have been put on antivirals immediately after he was confirmed with swine flu.”

The mother said she had not been initially concerned her son might have the virus, but the persisting symptoms began to scare her as the days of the boy's illness dragged on.

“I have never seen the poor little kid so sick but he just had to battle on himself,” she said.

“His recovery could have and should have been much quicker.”

The boy is understood to have been part of a group of pupils from Warwick West State School who returned from a bus excursion to Canberra in the week before the school holidays.

Queensland Health was adamant yesterday none of its health professionals at Warwick Hospital or any other were “blasé” about their response to the H1N1 virus, as reported in the Daily News on Monday.

Darling Downs-West Moreton District chief executive officer Pam Lane said she could not comment on specific cases due to privacy reasons but said all patients who attended hospital were “treated very seriously” and were “assessed and treated by a doctor according to their clinical need”.

“Every year at this time, our doctors and nurses see increasing numbers of patients with flu-like symptoms,” Ms Lane said.

“This year, these symptoms can be attributed to the H1N1 virus or the influenza A virus.

“Following the move to the 'Protect' phase (for swine flu) in late June, the focus for hospitals, health care professionals and the response generally has been more on early treatment of people who may be vulnerable to severe outcomes.”

Ms Lane said laboratory testing for swine flu had now been “targeted at vulnerable groups and moderate to severe cases of H1N1”.

“Those not in a vulnerable group, if they have only mild symptoms generally do not need to seek medical advice and will not be tested or provided with antivirals,” she said.

Another Warwick mother whose child has now recovered from swine flu and who contacted the Daily News after our story on Monday defended the role of health workers at Warwick Hospital, urging local families to “remain calm”.

“When my 12 year old started showing symptoms I was able to get an emergency appointment with our family GP, who later directed us to the hospital,” she said.

“Obviously they can't test everyone and to do so would be very expensive.

“People also need to remember we are at the junction of two major highways and a lot of people are passing through here every day who could be carrying the virus.

“And what about the trolleys in the shopping centre?”

Queensland Health has now ceased updating numbers of confirmed swine flu cases by region, so it is not known how many local cases exist in the Warwick and Stanthorpe areas.

The Scots PGC College principal Michael Harding confirmed on Monday a day student had been found with the virus and up to 100 boarding students were confined to the school with 'regular' flu.

The latest...
  • In Queensland, 63 people confirmed with Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 (Human Swine

Influenza) are hospitalised, including 39 in intensive care.

  • Queensland has recorded six deaths (plus one still birth) related to human swine flu.
  • Queensland Health has operated a total of 14 flu clinics since the Human Swine Flu response was activated. Clinics are currently operating at Palm Island, Thursday Island and Mount Isa.
Swine Flu - answering common questions:
  • WHAT IS IT?

The Human Swine Influenza virus is a new flu virus infecting people and spreading from person to person. Swine flu is spread from person to person in the same way seasonal influenza and other common respiratory infections spread.

  • WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

Cough, sore throat, runny nose or nasal congestion.

  • HOW IS IT TRANSMITTED?

Swine flu is contagious and is spreading from human to human. However, at this time, it is not known how easily the virus spreads between people. This flu is thought to be spread from person to person in the same way seasonal influenza and other common respiratory infections spread.

Being in close contact (eg within a metre) with an infected person while they are talking, coughing or sneezing puts you at risk of becoming infected. Virus-containing droplets can land on the surfaces of the mouth, nose and throat of people close by. The virus may also be spread through contact with infectious respiratory secretions on the hands of an infected person or other objects and surfaces.

  • WHAT IS THE INFECTIOUS PERIOD?

People with swine flu should be considered potentially contagious as long as they are symptomatic and possibly for up to seven days following the onset of illness. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods.

  • HOW IS IT TREATED?

Antiviral medications such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) can be used in the treatment of swine flu. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines which fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body. Antiviral drugs work best if started soon after becoming sick (within two days of symptoms developing).

(Source: Queensland Health)



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