The stark reality of what faces Ireland was felt this week with the closure of a Gaelic language school in Donegal as several students were exposed to the swine flu virus and Ireland's first swine flu fatality.

A young woman who suffered serious health issues contracted the H1N1 virus and died in Tallaght last week.

The Department of Health and the HSC held a press conference about the country’s first swine flu to discuss the pandemic.  

“We have seen internationally that people with underlying conditions illnesses can be at higher risk of developing more serious symptoms, as was the case for this patient,” said Dr. Dooley on behalf of the Health Service Executive (HSE).

“If you are in one of the high risk groups and you think you have symptoms of flu, you should contact your GP,” he continued. Those who suffer from diabetes asthma, obesity, chronic heart, kidney, liver of neurological disease are considered to be high risk.

“While this is a tragedy we now have to continue to minimize the effects of the pandemic on the population,” said Dr. Dooley.

The HSE and the Department of Health will be severely tested in the coming months.

Seasonal influenza is far more prevalent in Ireland from October to March, and more people congregate together during these months with the return of school and the increase in fall and winter activities.

The weather also has an effect, as the colder weather and higher humidity can influence the transmission of flu.

The HSE released the following guidelines to help prevent the spread:
  • Always carry tissues
  • Always cover your nose and mouth with clean tissues, when coughing or sneezing
  • Always dispose of used tissues into a bin immediately
  • Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water or alcohol based hand cleaners afterwards
  • Clean surfaces regularly to get rid of germs