| Latest Health News | Sunday July 22 2012 8:36
New Zealand's facing the threat of an influenza epidemic which has left around 12 people in intensive care.
The H3N2 strain causes hallucinations and crippling nausea.
Experts say the strain is expected to be as severe as the H1N1 swine flu which killed 49 people in 2009.
About a dozen people have been put in intensive care and 60 admitted to an isolation ward in Christchurch Hospital with the H3N2 virus.
Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Alistair Humphrey says it could be as severe as the swine flu epidemic in 2009, but medical centres were more prepared for that.
"One of the problems is that the general practice has not set up feeder clinics or flu centres like we did back then so what's happened now is that doctors are being effected."
Dr Humphrey says the virus has the potential to spread throughout the country.
"It is putting pressure on the staff at the hospital, it's putting pressure on general practice as well and on the after hours services, because a lot of people are presenting with this illness this year."
Dr Humphrey says quite a few doctors and nurses have contracted the virus.
Photo: NZ Herald