FAMILY BELIEVE MIKEY HAD SWINE FLU
THE NEWS that swine flu may have contributed to the death of a fouryear old boy in Clonroche, has struck fear into the hearts of parents throughout County Wexford, as the H1N1 virus re-appears with a vengeance.
Mikey Connors from Coolnacon died in Temple Street Hospital in Dublin where he was transferred from Wexford General Hospital after his condition worsened. He was buried last Wednesday.
Mikey had an underlying liver condition from infancy but he was in good health up to a week before his death and his family believe that he contracted swine flu, which he could not fend off due to his young age and his earlier problems.
Mikey's death came at the same time that the mother of a threeyear-old girl in England, who had no previous health problems of any kind, spoke out publicly about her daughter's death from swine flu.
Also contributing to the new wave of alarm is the case of Padraig Cregan (32) of Coolboy in Wicklow who was initially treated for swine flu symptoms at Wexford General Hospital and whose condition was so serious that he was transferred to Cork University Hospital under garda escort.
He was in perfect health up to Christmas when he began feeling unwell and his condition deteriorated to such a degree that he ended up on a ventilator and dialysis, according to his family who urged anyone who has a concern about swine flu to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Swine flu was a major health issue last year, producing widespread alarm that led many people to avail of a HSE vaccination programme but the fears seemed to be largely unfounded as the winter passed and the number of incidents seemed to be relatively small.
A different trend is developing this year - the H1N1 virus is the most predominant strain of flu virus currently going around and even anecdotally, more people seem to be contracting it than before.
With the number of new cases of swine flu doubling at a normally busy time for hospitals around the country anyway, there are fears that cross infection with the H1N1 virus will occur in overcrowded Accident & Emergency departments where there are no facilities to isolate patients with the illness.
The HSE confirmed that there has been a significant increase in activity at hospitals in the south-east, including Wexford General Hospital where strict visiting restrictions were put in place, in an attempt to minimise the spread of the virus. Children are currently banned from visiting Wexford hospital - a sign on the front door reads: ' Influenza Alert. Children Visiting is Strictly Prohibited'. People who are experiencing flu-like symptoms are also asked not to visit.
Children and young people, especially those with pre-existing medical conditions that increase their vulnerability, are among the categories most at risk of contracting the virus, along with pregnant women and older people. 'Influenza activity in the south-east, including the Wexford area, has continued to increase, in line with the nationally observed trend. As had been expected, the predominant flu virus this year is the H1N1 virus,' said a HSE spokesman.
'We are now seeing a major rise in people with flu-like illnesses attending G.P.'s and G.P. out of hours services,' he added.
The Irish Association for Emergency Medicine has called on the Minister for Health to implement measures to reduce the numbers of people being left on trolleys in Accident & Emergency departments of hospitals, to prevent the spread of the virus.
The scenario of people with the virus presenting at overcrowded A&E units where many of those in attendance are in the high risk groups, will result in death and adverse outcomes for vulnerable patients, the Association has warned, adding that the situation is 'all the more tragic as it is both foreseeable and preventable.'