MOSCOW, January 19. /TASS/. Epidemics of acute respiratory infections and flu is spreading across Russia, with the bulk of cases being caused by A(H1N1) strain, popularly known as swine flu and fraught with serious complications, the chief of Russian consumer rights watchdog said on Tuesday.
"In early December, A(H1N1) strains accounted for four percent of the overall flu cases. The figure grew to seven percent after December 15 and to 24% by January 4. As of today, the occurrence of swine flu strains is 42%," Anna Popova, who is Russia’s chief sanitary doctor, told a news conference.
According to Rospotrebnadzor statistics, the weekly flu and acute respiratory infection epidemics threshold has been exceeded in 13 Russia regions. "Threshold excess figure vary in a range from 11 to 135% It happens every year, so there is nothing untypical about it," she noted.
The epidemics threshold among children under two has been exceeded in 17 Russian regions, among pre-schoolers - in 12 region, among schoolchildren - in eight regions, and among adults - in seven regions.
Earlier, Popova told TASS this flu virus is responsible for swift development of serious complications. She said that certain groups of population were at particular high risk for life-threatening problems from swine flu, such as children under five, people older than 65, pregnant women, people having diabetes or other chronic diseases.
The flu epidemic is expected to peak in late January and February, Russian Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova said.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 80% of viruses spreading this year in Europe and Russia are viruses of type A(H1N1), or swine flu. A number of swine flu-related deaths have already been registered in Russia.
Swine flu is the popular name for influenza (flu) caused by a relatively new strain of influenza virus A. It was responsible for the flu pandemic in 2009-2010. The virus is officially known as influenza virus A/H1N1pdm09. Swine flu is contagious, and it spreads in the same way as the seasonal flu. Despite the name, it is not transmitted by eating cooked pork products. Most symptoms are the same as seasonal flu. They can include cough, fever, sore throat, stuffy or runny nose, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. The most serious complication of the flu is pneumonia. Vaccination is the best way to prevent or reduce the chances of becoming infected with influenza viruses.