Hot topics - Swine flu
UPDATED -January 2011
H1N1'Swine Flu' is in the news again with a recent outbreak in the UK that started in October 2010 and continues to the present, though according to the Health Protection Agency (HPA), it is now on the decline.
The first reported case of Swine flu 'H1N1' was in Mexico, April 2009. Since then it has spread around the globe and is now officially a pandemic (epidemic over a very large area; affecting a large proportion of a population. Oxford English Dictionary)
In the same month, Swine flu made its first appearance in the UK with a couple being admitted to hospital in Scotland after returning from Mexico.
What is Swine flu?
Swine flu 'H1N1' is a new strain of the same virus that causes the common flu. It is believed to have originated in pigs but there is no definite evidence for this.
To date, most cases of Swine flu have been mild with symptoms similar to those of seasonal flu. A high temperature (38oC/ 100.4oF) is the main symptom as well as any of the following: headache, cough, aches and chills, sore throat.
However, the New Scientist magazine (Oct 2009), points out that there have been cases of Swine flu where a fever was not present.
How dangerous is it?
As of October 11th 2009, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that of nearly 400,000 cases of Swine flu, 4735 were deaths. As of October 15th 2009, there were106 reported deaths in the UK from the virus. Most cases however, have been similar to seasonal flu, and do not lead to death.
How to reduce the risk of catching Swine flu
Good hygiene can help, for example:
• Covering your nose and mouth when sneezing
• Using a tissue and disposing used ones.
• Washing hands before eating.
• Avoid close contact with people who appear to be unwell.
This short video on the Department of Health website shows how easily germs can be spread.
What to do if you think you've got Swine flu
Contacting your GP
The NHS Choices site (www.nhs.uk) gives the following advice:
Contact your doctor directly rather than using the National Pandemic Flu Service if:
• you have a serious underlying illness
• you are pregnant
• you have a sick child under one year old
• your condition suddenly gets much worse
• your condition is still getting worse after seven days (five for a child)
The website of the UK government advises the following:
"Vaccination against swine flu is not compulsory, but people in high-risk groups are being strongly advised to have the vaccination." http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Swineflu/DG_177831
Is the vaccine safe?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has the following advice on the safety, testing, side effects and adverse effects of the Swine flu vaccine
Up to date information on the vaccine is available at from the NHS website.
Latest UK Figures:
The Health Protection Agency website provides weekly influenza
The Guardian's Datablog provides extensive data on the flu in the UK in the form of graphs, regional tables, and comparisons with the 2009 outbreak:
Other Birmingham City Council resources about swine flu
Swine Flu Preparedness - a report from Overview and Scrutiny
Information Services Resources
The following are just some of Information Service's resources relating to Swine Flu. Please ask at the floor 4 Enquiry counter if you require assistance
Please see our catalogue.
Department of Health
Heart of Birmingham Care Trust (NHS) - The Trust's website includes information and useful links
World Health Organisation
|BBC Swine Flu -country by country||
A county by country representation of its spread.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention
Among other things, provides maps, graphs and charts of the spread of, as well as updates, of Swine flu.
|Swine Flu FAQ's||http://www.bmj.com/content/338/bmj.b1791 - requires subscription|
|Centres for Disease Control and Prevention||
An American site providing lots of useful information and advice