Ukraine November 01, 2009 21:43 GMT
Pandemic flu outbreak, school closures and other
public health restrictions
An outbreak of pandemic (H1N1)
2009 influenza in the western region of the country has prompted
the government to implement a number of measures to reduce spread of the
In mid-October a rise in influenza-like
illness was noted in the Ternopil, Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk, Chernivtsi
regions, with a number of severe cases of pneumonia and several
deaths. The outbreak has been confirmed to be at least in part
due to pandemic flu. Estimates are that across the country, more than
80,000 people have had a flu-like illness. Over 2,000 are hospitalized,
about half of them children. Over 130 people are or have
required treatment in intensive care units. Two deaths are in
children, the remainder in adults between the ages of 20 to 50 years.
Pregnant women have been affected.
In an update on November 1, the Ministry
of Health advises of the death of 4 health care workers, 2 in Lviv and 2 in
Ternopil. The total number of deaths associated with the outbreak has
Ministry of Health (in Ukrainian) describes a very rapid spread of the
disease, with features of the illness which are consistent with the
features of pandemic flu seen globally (severe disease in people with
underlying health problems, pneumonia which is very difficult to treat and
follows a "fulminant" course). Due to testing limitations,
confirmation of H1N1 virus is delayed.
Amongst measures introduced to try and
limit spread of flu are closures of schools, and restrictions on large
public gatherings for three weeks. Cinemas and other entertainment
establishments have been closed, and preventative measures have been
strengthened at transport hubs, including airports and train (subway)
stations, as well as market places and commercial establishments.
Influenza H1N1 is a new strain of influenza virus, causing a respiratory
illness in humans. It was first discovered in April 2009, and for a time
was referred to as "swine" or "pig" flu because it is
similar to influenza viruses that infect pigs. The virus has spread to many
countries, and caused outbreaks in the general community.
The majority of people infected develop a
mild illness. Symptoms are similar to seasonal influenza - fever, sore
throat, cough, headache, muscle pains, runny nose. It also causes vomiting
and diarrhea. In some people, a severe illness with a rapidly progressive
pneumonia develops, and can be fatal Pregnant women and people
with health issues (obesity, asthma, other lung conditions, heart disease,
diabetes, weakened immune system) appear to be at higher risk for severe
illness, although people without any underling health problems may aslo
develop severe disease.
The disease is thought to be spreading in
the same way as seasonal flu - through the droplets an infected person
generates when they cough, sneeze or talk. People who are in close contact
(within 1 to 2 meters) can be infected when they inhale the droplets
directly, or touch them with their hands and then transfer them to their
eyes, nose or mouth.
Most people recover on their own, however
the illness can be treated with antiviral medications (Tamiflu or Relenza).
Severe cases may require hospitalization and intensive care management.
Prevention is through attention to hygiene, and specific pandemic influenza
H1N1 2009 vaccination. Vaccine is mostly in limited supply, and may be
restricted to national priority groups.
International SOS Comment
International SOS is
monitoring the situation closely. For the latest information see the
Pandemic Preparedness Website www.internationalsos.com/pandemicpreparedness. In particular
the Flu News, Public Health Restrictions and Ukraine country page.