Safe - "SWINE FLU"- What's it all about? A Quick Explanation
Right, seen as there seem to be a lot of threads recently around RYL re. Swine Flu I thought it'd be a good idea to write something quickly.
So what is Swine Flu?
Swine Flu is a form of the Influenza ('flu) Virus that no-one has 'seen' before. Because it has not been around before no-one has immunity to it and so it is spreading quickly around the world. It has a name which you may hear around as H1N1; this is a medical classification due to it's structure and says nothing more than that.
It first started in Mexico but the origin of which is unknown as of yet. It was first thought to be from pigs as it is similar to a flu virus they can get but it has been shown that this is not the case; it IS safe to be around pigs/ eat pork
What are the symptoms?
The Symptoms are the same as any other flu and if you have a temperature, cough, or sneezing then that is enough for you to be suspected of having Swine Flu. Others are achey muscles, headaches, shivery, lack of energy, vomitting. A symptom which appears unique to Swine Flu compared to other 'flu's is that it seems to cause diarrhoea in a lot of patients.
What do I do if I am showing these symptoms?
Generally stay in the house and get someone to make sure you're ok. It is strongly advised that you don't go to the doctor as this can increase its spread. If you feel really ill then the best thing to do is contact your doctor or a medical helpline. Also, cold/ 'flu remedies may help with the symptoms but won't make you fight it quicker; a drug called Tamiflu may be prescribed to those showing the worse symptoms or people with any and are in high risk groups. This is an anti-viral drug, anti-biotics will not work against it. Make sure you stay warm and drink plenty of fluids and try to take in food is the best thing.
Also it is a good idea to stay off work/ school and don't go out to meet people to reduce the risk of spreading it further.
What are "High-Risk Groups"?
People over 65, those who are immuno-suppressed (which can include those with a restrictive ED), diabetics, those with a long-term respiratory (breathing) problems inc asthma, those with a heart problem, those with a neurological condition, children younger than five years old and pregnant women.
How dangerous is it?
Basically compared to influenza viruses seen every year, as a percentage, it hasn't killed as many people and most people recover fully in less than 1-2weeks. 'Flu is more than a cough/ cold, it does put people in bed and often does kill and it's just here people are taking more notice of the numbers; it must be noted that VERY few people have died from the illness and most of these have had pre-existing conditions.
How do you reduce the risk of getting/ Spreading it?
The same as any other cold/ flu, keep your hands clean and wash them before you eat. If you sneeze/ cough cover your nose and mouth preferably with a tissue that then should be binned straight away; if you use your hands wash them ASAP. It is spread easily through droplets in the air so if you sneeze in the same room as someone else then they can catch it if you have the virus in your system.
Also it is advised if you have it not to use public transport as that can increase it's spread.
I've heard it being called a Pandemic; what is this?
This is when a disease spreads quickly around a large area, often several countries/ continents and it is now found in almost every country in the world, spreading so fast as it hadn't been seen before
The figures the media are releasing at the moment for the number of deaths is a worst case scenario thing and is VERY unlikely to happen and is based solely on the idea of if the virus mutates to be a worse strain than it already is so I wouldn't go by what they say at all. Basically they are using facts from bird 'flu and SARS and transferring them over; something which is not easily transferable. The best thing to do is to not take what the paper says seriously. Their facts are very dubious and it's been in the country a couple of months now and if you look at the number of deaths it really isn't many. Yes it could worsen but there is no proof that this will happen and the media will always look at it from that side of things using scare tactics and extraordinary figures as that's what makes newspapers sell. The 'flu virus that is out each yr, the main one, is different to the one before which is why people can keep getting flu whereas ones such as chicken pox the majority only get it once. The population are partially immune to the new ones every yr but they still spread fast and can damage and even kill people and really swine flu is no different to that, it's just people have no immunity to it rather than partial immunity. I REALLY would be dubious about what you read in the papers; little is from hard-based madical facts
The Gov't/ NHS are saying the best thing you can do for people you think may have got it is to go and do their shopping and call NHS Direct/ see the doctors for them; some places let you pick up the Tamiflu drug for people who are suspected of having the virus. Clean your hands after any contact with her and before leaving the house would be a good idea too.
apparently you can phone/go online and describe your symptoms and if you are suspected they give you a unique reference number which when taken to a pharmacy will be swapped for tamiflu.
they are no longer trying to differentiate between swine flu and other coughs/colds/flu-like illnesses, if you have the symptoms in most areas you will be prescribed tamiflu.
a couple of questions.
1) are pregnant women and young children in the at risk groups? the news seemed to say pregnant women are, and babies don't have a developed immune system.
2) my brother has been coughing and sneezing for weeks, with red eyes, has never suffered from hayfever before and it's not really cold season. now chloe has runny nose and sneezing a lot and sometimes a mild fever. matt and i are both sneezing too now... should we be worried? i have so many pregnancy appointments, midwife, blood tests etc...do i cancel them all just in case?
Mand, South Wales, Full-time working, single mother to 2 scarily independent girls.
I AM A PROUD PLUMERIA SISTER
for the first 6 months of life, whilst breast feeding (that's why it's so important...) babies are covered by their mothers immune systems. That's why the jabs are around that period. After this period, then yes, babies are at high risk, with the elderly and the asthmatic etc etc.
I don't think you should be worried, although those symptoms are unpleasant, they aren't the flu. Give the NHS direct a call if you're really concerned.
Yeh, I meant to put young children and pregnant women in the list. Really as said babies who are breast fed will have immunity to whatever you've been exposed to but really after the first day of being breast fed this is really reduced and only really covers gut diseases; however, the protection they gained in this first day often lasts for 6 months. In some cases it can be less, others it can be more which is why vaccines are at different time intervals and also a reason why some need boosters closer together than others. Swine Flu has never been seen before so babies will not get immunity from this from their mothers.
You should keep the appointments you have. Hayfever can affect people at different times and flu doesn't last generally longer than 2 weeks. Hayfever is an allergy and like allergy's can develop more with increased exposure. No one is allergic to something they see for the first time; it's only from the 2nd time onwards and the more you're exposed to something the more likely you are to become allergic to it. I developed hayfever when I was around 16, only mildly and I only get it at certain times. So long as everyone in the house keeps hygiene high then you should be fine to go to your appointments; it is more dangerous to miss them to be honest and really it is more likely to be hayfever or anoother allergy that he has rather than have 'swine flu' or any other infectious illness. The NHS have stopped differentiating it as it is pointless. It has become so widespread and is just like other flu's and that's all tamiflu does, it helps you to fight 'flu like viral diseases like antibiotics help against bacterial infections.
This also shows that colds/ 'flu, though more common in the Winter months can occur at any time and so if you display symptoms then it could just be a cold. 'Flu tends to keep most bedridden. If you are worried then contact the people you are going to for your tests/ appointments.