Swine flu leaves Cant woman blinking to communicate

Swine flu has left a South Canterbury woman able to communicate only by blinking and with only half a lung functioning.

The 43-year-old Waimate woman went to Timaru Hospital on August 8 with a high temperature and flu symptoms, the Timaru Herald reported.

She was given antibiotics and sent home but her partner called an ambulance when she deteriorated that day.

The mother-of-four spent several weeks in Timaru Hospital and was on Tuesday airlifted to Auckland Hospital's intensive care unit.

A source told the newspaper one lung had failed and only half of the second was functioning.

"She has only just started responding to medication which has helped her blood circulation. She is now clear of swine flu but it has basically eaten away at her organs," the source said.

"She has been communicating by blinking. The family are hoping she will be getting a lung transplant."

Health officials yesterday said the number of swine flu cases was falling, and that the country had not been hit as hard as expected.

"DHBs (district health boards) report there has been less gridlock in hospitals than expected, and we hear there are fewer absences from schools and work places," Health Ministry deputy director of public health Fran McGrath said.

"People have really taken heed of the tried and true hygiene messages - cover coughs and sneezes, wash your hands often and stay home if you are sick.

"These simple actions appear to have helped delay the spread of this virus and lessened the impact of this pandemic on our communities."

Latest ministry figures showed 16 people had died from swine flu in New Zealand while 10 people were in hospital with the virus, including six in intensive care.

All up, 3114 cases of swine flu have been confirmed, although the actual number of cases would be significantly higher as only a small proportion of people with symptoms were being tested, the ministry said.

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