Swine flu

What is swine flu?

Swine flu is a form of flu, which is thought to originate in pigs; the human form is caused by the H1N1 viral strain. Swine flu is highly contagious

Symptoms of swine flu

Many of the symptoms of swine flu are similar to those associated with traditional forms of winter flu; these include a high temperature, sore throat, muscular aches and pains, loss of appetite and nausea. More severe symptoms include difficulty with breathing and serious conditions such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Often the symptoms are exaggerated and many people will feel very ill with swine flu.

Diagnosing swine flu

Due to the high number of cases you should contact the National Pandemic Flu service rather than your local GP if you think you might have swine flu; the operator will ask you a few simple questions to determine whether or not you are suffering from swine flu. If you are diagnosed, you will be given a reference number, which will enable you to obtain antiviral medication from a local collection point.

Treating and preventing swine flu

Many people who are suffering from swine flu are taking medication to combat the infection; most commonly this medication is Tamiflu. The spread of swine flu can be reduced by ensuring good standards of hygiene and keeping affected people isolated. If you are suffering with swine flu you should not go to work or school and you should try to keep away from other people; you should also take care to put your hand over your mouth when you cough or sneeze, wash your hands regularly and dispose of any used tissues. Most healthy people will recover from swine flu fairly quickly with the right medication and plenty of rest.

Statistics

Swine flu has become a global pandemic and has affected thousands of people. In Scotland, 40 people have now been killed by swine flu in the last 6 months; many of these people had underlying health issues however, swine flu is a concern. The vaccination programme has now been launched in Scotland to help protect people against the infection and stop the spread across the country.

Vaccination

The swine flu vaccination has now arrived in the U.K and doctors are starting to vaccinate the most vulnerable groups. Those offered the vaccination will include children under the age of 5, pregnant women, people suffering from pre-existing serious health conditions, asthma sufferers, those with a suppressed immune system and people over the age of 65 who are prone to infection. People who work in a health care setting will also be offered the immunisation.

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