7 Nov 2009

Swine flu on rise in Asia, WHO warns

3:18 pm on 7 November 2009

Swine flu is on the rise in China and Japan after triggering an unusually early start to the winter influenza season in Europe, Central Asia and North America, the World Health Organisation says.

The United Nation's agency says at least 6,071 people worldwide have died as a result of an H1N1 infection since its discovery earlier this year in Mexico and the United States.

Some 359 deaths were recorded in the past week, which saw a big outbreak in Ukraine as well as the continuing spread of swine flu across the northern hemisphere, Reuters reports.

Sharp increases in pandemic flu infections continue to be reported throughout Japan, particularly on the northern island.

China is among more than 20 countries to have launched mass immunisation campaigns against the virus.

Most serious illness and deaths have occurred in patients younger than 65, and pregnant women and people with chronic health problems are at high risk.

The WHO says some pigs, turkeys and household pets have become infected with the swine flu, but the pandemic virus does not yet appear to be spreading quickly among animals.