By Jason Gale
June 5 (Bloomberg) -- A sixfold surge in swine flu cases within Scotland this week shows the virus is spreading in local communities, adding to evidence a pandemic is emerging.
Including 31 yesterday, more than 100 people have been diagnosed with the H1N1 influenza virus this week, taking the national tally to 119, according to the Scottish government. Scotland accounts for a quarter of the U.K.’s 459 reported cases.
Most of Scotland’s recent cases caught the bug locally, the government said. Disease trackers are looking for evidence of widespread community transmission of swine flu outside North America, where it was discovered seven weeks ago, to determine whether the new germ has sparked the first influenza pandemic since 1968.
“There is evidence of spread in households, schools and the community” in the U.K., researchers wrote in a study in the journal Eurosurveillance yesterday.
The new H1N1 flu strain has turned up in 66 countries as far removed as Honduras, Iceland and New Zealand. The virus is starting to spread in Australia, Japan, the U.K., Spain and Chile among people with no travel history and outside of schools and institutional settings, Keiji Fukuda, the World Health Organization’s assistant director-general of health security and environment, said on a conference call June 2.
Twenty-one of the Scotland’s new cases are in the National Health Service’s Highland area, which covers the southwestern city of Dunoon.
Doctors are treating a 45-year-old man, a 23-year-old woman and a 38-year-old woman in an intensive care ward at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in the town of Paisley, near Glasgow. The hospital is also treating a 44-year-old woman in its high dependency unit, according to the government’s statement.
A 37-year-old man at Glasgow’s Victoria Infirmary, who was being treated in intensive care, has improved and has been transferred to the hospital’s high dependency unit, the government said.
Authorities closed two schools yesterday for seven days to curb infections, and said 56 possible cases are under investigation.
“We have always said that we expected to see an increase in cases in Scotland,” Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said in the statement. “A number of young children have been affected by the virus. Fortunately their symptoms are mild and I’d like to reassure parents that there is no cause for undue concern.”
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