Pregnant woman ill in suspected swine flu case

Pregnant woman ill in suspected swine flu case
A young pregnant woman is critically ill with a life-threatening lung infection that is suspected to be the A/H1N1 swine flu.

The woman, who is reported to be under 30, is in intensive care at the Karolinska University Hospital in Solna, Stockholm, and is being treated with artificial lungs (ECMO). The diagnosis is not yet confirmed, said Karolinska University Hospital’s head of press, Klas Östman.

Pregnant women are in a medical risk group that the Swedish Health and Welfare Board (Socialstyrelsen) recommends stand in priority order in the queue for receiving the vaccination for swine flu. Pregnant women run a higher risk of suffering serious complications in relation to the infection.

The increased risk posed by the A/H1N1 swine influenza to pregnant women is due to two principal factors, according to Mia Brytting, head microbiologist at the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control (Smittskyddsinstitutet).

“They have an immuno-defence that is in certain ways impaired so that the body does not reject the foetus. Also, as the pregnancy becomes further advanced, the lungs have a smaller area within the diaphragm than normal. The virus, which attacks the airways, causes different levels of strain for different people,” says Brytting.

Three young people are already being treated with ECMO at Karolinska University Hospital, after the A/H1N1 swine influenza caused their lung functions to collapse. A further Swedish patient is also under treatment in a hospital in Århus, Denmark, as Karolinska had no available beds when the patient was admitted.

In recent days the hospital has increased the number of ECMO treatment places, and plans to accelerate the increase in treatment capacity if the swine flu infection spreads further.

The swine influenza has not yet become a serious epidemic in Sweden, according to the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control’s latest influenza report, released last week. Up to and including August 23, Sweden has had more than 750 confirmed cases of swine influenza. The highest incidences of influenza cases have been reported from Stockholm, Kronoberg, Skåne and Uppsala.

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