Infections rise in deadly flu outbreak

(Nov 22) HEALTH officials in Canberra suspect another person has been infected in an influenza outbreak which has swept through a nursing home and already killed six elderly residents.

The powerful strain has infected 57 people, including at least seven nursing home staff.

Tests were still being conducted yesterday to determine if the latest respiratory illness was part of the same strain, a spokeswoman for ACT Health Minister Katy Gallagher said.

The latest victim was a 90-year-old man who passed away at the Jindalee Nursing Home in Canberra's south on Thursday night. Staff notified authorities on November 1 that an unknown illness had swept through the residence.

Health authorities have offered staff and residents of the home anti-viral medication, including the drug Tamiflu, and have sought assistance from the commonwealth.

ACT Acting Chief Health Officer Charles Guest reassured residents, staff and their families that the outbreak was not connected to pandemic influenza or the deadly H5N1 virus, commonly known as bird flu, following analysis of the virus.

The Australian Medical Association yesterday warned that Australia's pandemic management plan lacked consistency.

AMA president Mukesh Haikerwal said state governments had neglected to share their pandemic plans with doctors, and there was a lack of co-ordination across states and territories on the role of fever clinics and how to direct patients to the most appropriate care.

"General practitioners are keen to properly prepare for a flu pandemic but they're currently trying to do so in a vacuum of information on how jurisdictions propose to mobilise, integrate, finance and protect primary care," Dr Haikerwal said.

Australia has spent $600 million since 2003 preparing for a possible influenza outbreak. (


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