What is Swine Flu and how can I protect myself?

Swine flu is a respiratory disease that was originally found in pigs, this has now affected humans who have had contact with infected pigs in Mexico. People infected with swine flu can also pass the illness from person to person. Many schools in the UK have had to close as a result of an infected pupil. The Government has said not to panic as there are enough antivirals for everyone if the situation becomes worse.

How can you catch it?

Swine flu is caught by flu germs; to prevent catching or even spreading swine flu, catch your sneeze in a tissue and bin immediately, then wash your hands with antibacterial soap. If you do not have a tissue at hand remember to cover your mouth when sneezing to help prevent spreading of germs on surfaces. There are antibacterial hand rubs that can be bought from the high street – these are proven to kill germs and bacteria without the need for water.

Can swine flu be treated?

Yes, if caught early the prognosis is good. If you do not feel well and have flu like symptoms, do not attempt to go to work or go to your local GP. Stay home and contact them by phone and you will be given advice and in some cases a doctor may visit you in your own home.

How can I protect myself?

Cover mouth when sneezing and coughing, germs can live on surfaces for hours, dispose of tissues when finished and wash hands regularly. Use antibacterial hand gels to prevent spread of germs.

Is swine flu fatal?

Yes, if left untreated swine flu can result in fatality, but antivirals such as Tamiflu and Relenza have treated and prevented hospitalisation in those that have been already affected. If you have respiratory problems there is a chance that swine flu will be harder to treat. Seek help as soon as possible. Swine flu has killed hundreds of people mainly in the US and so far only 31 fatalities has been recorded in England and is increasing rapidly.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms are similar to the normal seasonal flu, symptoms that may occur are: coughing, sore throat, lack of appetite, fatigue and although not common in swine flu, some people have reported suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea.

The threat level was raised from 4 to 5 on the scale of up to 6, 6 is the highest meaning a pandemic is imminent. The World Health Organisation may raise the threat level to 6 as the number of infected people has risen drastically over the last month worldwide.