Belfast Telegraph

Number of swine flu deaths hits 17

Two adults with no underlying health problems have died from swine flu in Northern Ireland, it has been revealed.

A total of 17 people have been killed by the H1N1 virus during this season, the Public Health Agency confirmed.

Its director of public health Carolyn Harper said the flu was displaying a similar pattern to last year and the rate of increase in confirmed new cases was slowing. The virus was behaving the same in Northern Ireland as the rest of the UK.

This year there have been no deaths of pregnant women and one of a child.

Dr Harper said: "People should also be reassured by the fact that the World Health Organisation has said that there is no evidence that the swine flu virus is changing.

"Unfortunately these deaths are a reminder of the fact that for a small number of people, and still particularly those with underlying medical conditions, swine flu can be a very serious illness. Other people are also affected but their risk is much lower."

This swine flu season 14 people with an underlying condition have died plus two who did not have a pre-existing medical issue. Another death is being investigated to determine if an underlying condition was present.

This compares to 19 deaths last year.

A total of 33 adults and children are critically ill in hospital with swine flu. Around half of all swine flu patients admitted to hospital had an underlying condition.

Fewer children have been affected compared with last year. This year it has mainly struck those aged 15-64. However people with underlying problems remained at much greater risk.

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From Belfast Telegraph