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Akld students test positive for Influenza A

Published: 8:11PM Sunday April 26, 2009 Source: ONE New/NZPA

It has been confirmed that ten of the party of students and teachers from Auckland's Rangitoto College who returned from a school trip to Mexico on Saturday with flu-like symptoms, have tested positive for Influenza A.

The Ministry of Health's Chief Adviser on population health, Dr Greg Simmons says that the test results show that it is not certain that they have Swine Flu and that further tests will be required.

However, Influenza A can be an indicator of the Swine Influenza.

Simmons says Influenza A can cause significant illness on its own. Tests will now go to the World Health Organisation labrartory in Melbourne and it will take a few more days to confirm further details.

He recommends that travellers who have been to affected areas need to contact their doctor if they have been feeling ill.

He says the students are recovering and are being treated, however are still being kept in isolation

Health Minister Tony Ryall, during a press conference in Wellington on Sunday night, says the government is taking the situation very seriously.

"Ministry of Health officials advise me there is no guarantee these students have swine influenza, but they consider it likely," he says.

"All precautions are being taken to allow for this. However, I am also informed  none of the affected patients are considered seriously ill, and most in fact seem to be on the road to recovery."

The Health Ministry has released some of its stockpile of the prescription flu drug Tamiful kept since the birdflu epidemic in 2005, which the students have been given. 

The three teachers and 22 senior students have been in isolation following their return on Saturday from a three week language trip to Mexico.

Rangitoto College principal David Hodge says the students, aged from 15-18 in years 11-13, had spent most of their time in Mexico City on the Spanish language trip.

Thirteen of the eight boys and 14 girls and one of the three female teachers from the school's languages department had showed some flu like symptoms such as body aches and coughing, he says.

More than 80 people in Mexico are believed to have died and over 1300 are sick as a result of catching swine flu.

Cases have also been reported in New York, California and Kansas and a British Airways pilot has been hospitalised in London with flu symptoms after returning from Mexico.

A group of students from Northcote College on the North Shore, have also recently returned from Mexico and two more school parties from Auckland are due  home shortly.

Advice from the Auckland Regional Public Health Service

The best things you can do to stop the spread of any type of influenza virus is to:
- Stay at home and away from others if you are sick
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue
- Put used tissues into a rubbish bin
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth - germs spread that way
- Be careful to wash hands often with soap and dry them thoroughly
- Keep surfaces clean at home, school and work.

Anybody experiencing warning signs of severe influenza illness such as rapid breathing, difficulty breathing, chest pain, severe vomiting or if a child is not responding or is difficult to wake up, should get urgent medical attention.

Symptoms also include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headaches, chills, fatigue, diarrhoea and vomiting.

Pssengers on NZ1, the flight from Los Angeles the Rangitoto College students returned on, are being advised to go to their doctor or other health professional if they develop flu-like symptoms.

Have you been affected by the swine influenza? Are you a relative of one of the people affected? Email us at news@tvnz.co.nz .

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