Fears that virus will spread

Fears are rising that the deadly flu virus that killed six elderly people may spread after it was revealed four of the six people killed had received the flu vaccine.

Fears are rising that the deadly flu virus that killed six elderly people may spread after it was revealed four of the six people killed had received the flu vaccine.

Former Moville Parish Priest, Father Paddy O’Kane, was so concerned for his father, Dominic, who resides in Nazareth House in Fahan he gave him the last rites this week.

It is also understood that five members of staff at the private nursing home have also contracted the Influenza A (H3) strain.

The investigation into the deaths was only launched on Sunday after a GP visited the home.

Buncrana-based councillor Rena Donaghey told the Democrat there’s a ‘great fear’ in the area and she’s been inundated with phone calls about it.

She said: “It is devastating news. There is a great fear in the area. Buncrana is a very small community where everybody knows everybody and there is great fear there. People are very concerned for the other members that are in the home as well as for other vulnerable elderly people in the area.”

But, Cllr Donaghey said she felt very assured the HSE had put appropriate measures in place to stop it spreading further. Earlier this week Dr Peter Wright, director of public health HSE North West, said it was ‘unlikely’ the virus would spread to members of the public.

Yesterday the Public Health Department of the HSE West said they’ve deployed a team of medical doctors, nurses and surveillance scientist to Nazareth House in order to control and manage the situation and put all appropriate treatment and control measures in place.

All residents in the nursing home have received either active or preventative treatment for influenza.

Dr Darina O’ Flanagan, Director of the HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSE HPSC), said “The results prove that the measures put in place by the Public Health Department of HSE North West have been appropriate since they became aware of the tragic deaths of residents in the nursing home.” Dr Wright added: “People should be aware of the simple measures they can take to reduce the risk of infection. These include covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough and sneeze, disposing of the tissue as soon as possible and washing your hands with soap and water as soon as you can afterwards. People visiting older residents of the Nazareth nursing home and healthcare staff should ensure that their vaccinations for influenza are up to date,” he said.