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SWINE FLU

Sweden evaluates swine flu response

With more than half the population inoculated, the swine flu scare is waning in Sweden. But questions remain whether the epidemic was grossly exaggerated.

“We’re definitely evaluating our initiatives, together with other countries,” said epidemiologist Annika Linde at the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control (Smittskyddsinstitut). “But we’ve saved lives. That’s perfectly clear.”

She made her comments in the Swedish daily Expressen in response to charges that the World Health Organization (WHO) exaggerated the risks.

Sweden ordered 18 million doses of vaccine but has used only about 7 million when it became clear that a single inoculation, rather than two, would suffice.

Some 15 Swedes have died from swine flu since the announcement of the pandemic last summer.

“With hindsight it’s easy to be critical, and there’s no doubt that this influenza was milder than we had believed,” said Linde. WHO did not exaggerate the risks, she said, but instead adopted the principle of protective action.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has praised the Swedish campaign to combat the disease. The H1N1 virus has been called swine flu because many of the genes are similar to influenza viruses found in pigs. The epidemic was first detected last year, originally in Mexico and the United States.

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SWINE FLU

Sweden to put up signs warning against swine flu

Fear is increasing in Sweden that the African swine flu virus could spread to the Scandinavian country.

Sweden to put up signs warning against swine flu
File photo: Ingvar Karmhed / Svd / TT

The county administration in Uppsala wants all municipalities in the area to put up signs warning of the risk of infection in the area, P4 Uppland reports.

“We have received instruction from the Swedish Board of Agriculture to inform municipalities about putting up signs at barbecue areas, picnic areas and bathing areas,” Mira Amin, a veterinarian employed by the county, told the radio station.

Signs in six languages will inform the public that leftovers should be thrown into the correct receptacles, and not left out so that pigs and wild boar can get to them.

African swine fever is not dangerous to humans, but can be lethal to boar and domestic pigs. The disease can be transmitted via food such as smoked sausage or ham, according to the Swedish Board of Agriculture.

Earlier this summer, it was reported that signs will also be placed at layby and rest areas on major roadways in southern parts of the country, where wild boar are known to roam.

The Swedish measure does not go as far as in neighbouring Denmark, however.

Copenhagen made the decision last year to erect a 70 kilometre-long fence along Denmark’s border with Germany to protect itself against the disease, despite experts questioning the effectivity of such a barrier.

READ ALSO: Sweden introduces new road signs to help non-Swedish speakers

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