Season’s first flu cases reported

The year's first cases of influenza in Sweden have been reported, after a Swede returning from holiday in Australia passed on the virus to a doctor and a nurse. If Sweden follows the pattern seen in the southern hemisphere, it could be in for a tough flu season, experts say.

Season's first flu cases reported
Photo: Willie Cloete

“We don’t yet know how it will be here, but in the southern hemisphere it has been an unusually difficult season,” said Maria Bryttling, chief microbiologist at the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control.

The flu spread by the returning tourist turned out to be a strain similar to those seen in Sweden in previous years, rather than the more virulent Australian virus. This is good news, according to doctors, as it means that Swedes are likely to have good resistance.

Between 100 and 4,000 Swedes die of influenza every year.

Swedish health authorities are set to begin vaccination campaigns, offering free jabs to those over 65 and people with certain chronic illnesses. A new centralized system for ordering vaccine at the national level will be used for the first time. Previously, vaccine was ordered by local authorities individually.