Swine Flu Increase Expected in Sweden

The spread of the new influenza A/H1N1 has only increased slightly as of yet in Sweden. But the large rise in cases is expected to begin within the next two weeks, when many Swedes return to school and work.

The National Board on Health and Welfare are preparing an extensive campaign to inform the public about the flu. The information will contain advice on both hygiene and vaccination.

The recent sunny and warm summer weather has kept the spread of the disease down during the last few weeks, according to the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease.

“The infection does not spread as well in hot and humid air, and sunlight also has an inactivating effect. But above all, social contact is more limited during the summer,” said Annika Linde, State Epidemiologist from the Institute, to Swedish news agency TT.  

So far, most have caught the flu while abroad and the spread within the country has been fairly limited. But the cooler the air gets, the better the infection can spread. When Swedes start returning from their holidays there will be a more significant risk of the disease spreading when people meet in the work place, in shops and on the tube.

When autumn term begins within the next few weeks, over a million children and teenagers will return to their schools, increasing the risk of the disease spreading even further.

But it is still uncertain how quick the infection will spread in Sweden.  

“It can stay on a rather low level for a while before it really gets going. We are hoping that it won’t explode before the vaccine gets here at the end of September – but how likely that is we really can’t say,” Annika Linde told TT.

The National Board on Health and Welfare are hoping to have the information campaign ready sometime next week. The advice will then be translated into 15 different languages.