A woman from Haifa was admitted to the respiratory intensive care unit at the Rambam Medical Center in the city in serious condition after she was diagnosed with H1N1-type influenza, infamously dubbed "swine flu".
The woman, 38, who apparently contracted the disease from her daughter and was not given a flu shot this winter, suffers from several other conditions as well, which weaken her immune system, exposing her to infectious diseases that could lead to severe symptoms.
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The patient had a high fever in recent days and stayed home. Her condition worsened Friday evening, and she began experiencing difficulty breathing, and turned to the hospital for medical assistance.
She was admitted and treated in the intensive care unit, however her condition continued to deteriorate and she began suffering severe respiratory distress, and as of Sunday morning she is connected to a respirator.
Test results on Sunday indicated the woman is suffering from swine flu.
"There isn't enough awareness about the need to vaccinate against influenza, especially among those with comorbidities," said Rambam Medical Center ICU Director Dr. Yaron Bar Lavie.
"But also perfectly healthy people should get vaccinated. In order to have a critical mass, we need some 35% of the population to be vaccinated in order to protect us all and reduce the risk of infection, but today only less than 20% were given the (flu) shots. People think that this year there's no winter and they don't get vaccinated. I think that in the next two weeks we will witness an increase in patients."
Swine flu is the name for an influenza strain that spread around the world in 2009 and caused many deaths, including in Israel. Since then, the new strain was added to the routine vaccination against influenza and all those who were given the shot are protected from it.
The Health Ministry have stressed in the past that swine flu is a regular seasonal flu, and this specific kind is no different that any other kind of flu that reaches Israel every year.
According to Health Ministry data, so far some 1.4 million Israelis, which account for 17% of the population, were immunized.
Among seniors aged 65 and above, who are the great risk group, the vaccination rate stands at 60%.