By: Amy Diamond

Eight cases of influenza had been seen at Tauranga Hospital since Saturday. Photo/ File

A Tauranga Hospital ward was closed to new admissions yesterday after eight people had been diagnosed with influenza.

The Bay of Plenty District Health Board’s infectious diseases specialist Dr Diane Hanfelt-Goade said Ward 2A – Kaupapa Ward – had been closed to new admissions as a precautionary measure.

This follows eight cases of influenza being confirmed in the ward since Saturday.

Dr Hanfelt-Goade said patients were being treated and recovering and no further cases had been discovered since Tuesday night.

“The hospital’s other usual infection control measures have [been] put in place for incidents of this type,” Dr Hanfelt-Goade said.

She said visitors, especially those who had not been immunised, were advised to avoid the ward.

“Anyone who has flu-like symptoms [sore throat, fever or chills] should not go to work or school, or visit patients in hospital, due to the risk of infecting others.”

Dr Hanfelt-Goade said the health board’s advice to the public was to be vigilant about hand hygiene, including regular hand washing with soap and water or alcohol gel.

“These cases have been the result of that, someone bringing the flu into hospital.”

General practice services manager at Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation Phil Back said he had not received any feedback from local GPs that there had been anything out of the ordinary in the past few months and everything was “business as usual”.

Mr Back said anyone who was feeling unwell should continue to consult their doctors.

“Contact your GP 24/7.”

Dr John Gemming from 5th Avenue Family Practice said he had seen “far more” cases of chest infections in the past three months.

Dr Gemming said he was aware that one of the strains of influenza was not covered by the immunisation which could be why the practice had been seeing more cases.

He said this winter had been “much more difficult” for patients as he was seeing people falling ill repeatedly for up to three weeks.

The Bay of Plenty District Health Board reiterated that unwell people should not visit others in hospital.

FACT BOX

Influenza – or the flu – is a virus that spreads quickly from person to person.

Symptoms include fever, chills, aches, runny nose, a cough and stomach upset.

Immunisation is the best defence against the flu, the Ministry of Health website says.

Eligibility criteria for FREE seasonal influenza vaccination for 2017 (from influenza.or.nz)

  1. Pregnant women (any trimester)
  2. Anyone under 65 years with a listed medical condition on the website
  3. Anyone aged 65 years or over
  4. From May 1, 2017, all children and young people aged from 6 months to under 18 years who are living within the following earthquake impacted areas will be eligible to receive funded influenza immunisation:
    – Seddon/Ward and rural Eastern Marlborough (Nelson Marlborough DHB)
    – Kaikoura and Hurunui (Canterbury DHB)

Source: Bay of Plenty Times

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