Outbreak of Swine Flu Kills 30 in Turkey

Swine Flu
A medical assistant prepares a H1N1 flu shot at the Health Ministry in Algiers December 29, 2009. Louafi Larbi/Reuters

30 people have died in Turkey this year from the H1N1 virus - more commonly known as swine flu.

Turkey’s health minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu, told local media in Ankara that an additional five people have died from the influenza B virus and four others from the H3N2 strain in the 2014-2015 flu season, which typically runs from November to April.

He confirmed that hospitals have been provided with 250,000 additional boxes of medicine to combat the various strains of the virus but said there is no need for additional measures at present as the peak period is over.

“We have collected a total of 4,300 samples from patients, out of which 366 were cases of H1N1, known as the swine flu,” said Muezzinoglu.

He added that the number of fatalities has increased in the past 15-20 days, but that this flu season overall has not been as intense as the 2013-2014 period.

The airborne virus began as a strain of flu transmitted from pigs to humans which mutated to become contagious between humans. The predominant symptoms are coughing, feeling feverish, joint pains, severe headaches and a sore throat.

It was first reported in Turkey in 2009, during a pandemic which is believed to have claimed up to 203,000 lives between April and December of that year - a figure 10 times higher than first estimates.

The first case was reported in Mexico, with the virus spreading around the world within weeks and causing mass panic. The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared its first ever public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) in April 2009. It later labelled the outbreak a pandemic in June.

The end of the pandemic was announced in August 2010, with later research led by the WHO and Imperial College London revealing at least one in five people worldwide were infected with swine flu during the first year.

The WHO warned in February that the world is still highly vulnerable to a severe flu pandemic and encouraged governments to take appropriate preventative measures.

A nationwide epidemic was ruled out by Health Ministry undersecretary Dr Eyüp Gümüş last week, but a more detailed statement is due on Wednesday.

According to the Daily Sabah, earlier this month the Turkish health ministry's scientific committee said the flu season is expected to be over by the end of March.