Irish swine flu case confirmed

The first probable case of swine flu in Ireland has now been reported.

Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said tests had been carried out on a man living in the east of the country who had recently returned from Mexico.

It is expected that the test results will prove to be positive.

The man had arrived on a long-haul flight in an airport outside Ireland and then transferred to Dublin. He was not considered a health risk at the time and the passengers on the flight into Ireland were not quarantined.

The man went to his doctor on arriving back in Ireland and did not return to work.

He is said to be relatively well. Dr Darina O'Flanagan of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre said the man has had relatively few contacts with other people.

The man has received treatment with the anti-viral drug Tamiflu and everyone he has been in contact with will also receive anti-viral treatment.

If confirmed, it would be the first definite case of the virus in Ireland. Earlier tests for the virus on four Irish people who recently returned from overseas proved negative.

EU health ministers were meeting today to discuss growing concerns over the spread of swine flu.

Dr Holohan said there is now round-the-clock co-operation by health professionals in dealing with any potential cases.

The HSE has been preparing a leaflet for all homes in case of an outbreak. This will give details on how to deal with someone if they are suspected of contracting the condition.

To date, there have been 236 confirmed cases worldwide of swine flu.

In Mexico, where the outbreak originated, people have been told to stay home with their families, and non-essential work and services are to be suspended. To date, eight deaths in Mexico have been confirmed as being due to the virus.

The World Health Organisation has so far kept its level of swine flu pandemic alert at phase five, which is just one phase off a formal global pandemic alert.

See also, 'All you need to know about swine flu'...

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