A team of ECDC experts has concluded that the threat to health posed by the A(H1N1) pandemic influenza virus in Bulgaria is not substantially different to that in other EU Member States. The clinical pattern of disease appears to be similar to that in other EU countries, with most affected people only experiencing mild illness. However, a number of people have been very seriously ill. While there is no reason for undue alarm, the virus should not be under estimated.
The ECDC team visited Bulgaria between 16 and 19 November at the invitation of Minister of Health Bozhidar Nanev and had intensive discussions with the Bulgarian authorities. They also visited healthcare facilities.
Like all EU Member States, Bulgaria invested substantial time and effort into pandemic preparedness planning. The Bulgarian plan was tested in exercises, and Bulgaria participated in a review of national preparedness led by ECDC and the European Commission. Bulgaria was therefore well placed to respond to the 2009 A(H1N1) pandemic, though in recent weeks the plan had to be adapted to respond to the rapidly developing epidemiological situation. An emergency operations centre was rapidly, and efficiently, set up in Sofia and authoritative information about the pandemic virus was communicated to the public and health professionals. Clear clinical guidance has been disseminated and adapted to different levels of medical care. Based on their visit, the ECDC team considered that the measures taken by the Bulgarian authorities are pro-active and adequately address the evolving situation in the country.
ECDC stresses the need for continued efforts to monitor the pandemic and mitigate its impact in Bulgaria. Everyone has a role to play in protecting themselves and others against the pandemic. Simple measures such as regular hand washing, good respiratory hygiene and staying at home when ill can limit the impact of the pandemic.