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IT'S ARRIVED; Health chiefs confirm Irishman has swine flu.


A SINGLE case of deadly swine flu was confirmed by Government health chiefs last night.

Doctors had been unsure throughout yesterday if the flu had reached Ireland after tests on a suspected victim proved inconclusive.

But tests back from a British lab confirmed the man from Leinster, who recently returned from a Mexican holiday, had picked up the strain.

He was tested by UCD experts, who discovered he had the suspected H1N1 A strain and sent a sample for confirmation.

The man, who has been taking anti-virus medication since he went to his GP with symptoms, has been treated for his symptoms and is staying in Quarantine at home in the east of the country.

Anyone he has been in close contact with has been issued with anti-viral drugs.

Professor Bill Hall, chairman of the National Pandemic Influenza Group, said the patient is feeling well and "wants to get out of his house".

Prof Hall said the National Virus Reference Laboratory in Dublin had not able to definitively confirm infection in the man's case "due to the very, very small amounts, minute quantities, of virus in the original specimen that we received".

He said test delays were due to the number of tests being carried out: "Labs are analysing hundreds of samples, but we also believe they are having similar issues with sensitivity in samples with a very small amount of virus." He added new laboratory tests are being developed to detect the bug and should be in place in the Dublin lab in the coming weeks.

There were 653 confirmed cases of swine flu worldwide, including 12 in England and three in Scotland.

The Chief Medical Officer confirmed there are no further probable or confirmed cases in the country.

Despite this, more than 400 worried people have called a new freephone information since it went live on Friday afternoon.

In the North, three suspect cases are under investigation while 26 have returned a negative result. None have tested positive.

Stormont health minister Michael McGimpsey warned the public not to be alarmed about recent developments - but to be prepared for a potential pandemic.

He said "We have been planning for a situation like this for some years and are well prepared. We will continue to make preparations to help us respond in the event of a pandemic."

Tanaiste Mary Coughlan also urged businesses to have a plan in place for a possible outbreak and relaunched a guide - Business Continuity Planning - Responding To An Influenza Pandemic, - for bosses on her department's website.

She said: " Although the impact of the current influenza strain is as yet unclear, the potential risk posed to business by pandemic influenza is serious."

Barry Greatorex, 43, a British sufferer, from Chipping Sodbury, Glos, has described his symptoms. He said: "I have never been through anything like this before. The first two or three days were pretty horrible.

"Each day developed into worse symptoms, starting with the chest pains and then the fever. I have a runny nose now and a bit of a cough - but I am feeling a lot better."


Warnings... leaflets ready to be sent out yesterday Flu mask in Mexico
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 3, 2009
Next Article:Victim breaks silence.

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