Swine flu Q&A: What you need to know about the virus


What is swine flu?


It is a new strain of the flu virus, officially known as H1N1, currently spreading from human to human. The Health Protection Agency estimates that there were 100,000 new cases across England last week.



What is the most common symptom?

Severity varies but most common is a fever or a temperature of 38C/100.4F or above.

What else?

Swine flu symptoms are similar to normal winter flu. The virus is suspected if a high temperature is accompanied by two or more of the following: cough, headache, joint pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, sore throat, runny nose.

I have the symptoms – what now?

Check with the National Pandemic Flu Service: 0800 1513 100; www. pandemicflu.direct.gov.uk; Minicom: 0800 1 513 200. In Scotland: call 0845 4242424; www.nhs24. com. In Northern Ireland: call 0800 0514142; www.dhsspsni.gov.uk

Shouldn't I speak to a doctor?

To reduce the chance of spreading the virus, the advice is not to go to your local hospital or GP surgery. But it's important to phone your doctor if you have a serious underlying illness, you are pregnant or you have a sick child under the age of one.

Is everyone going to get it?

Everyone is potentially at risk of infection. In the majority of cases, symptoms are relatively mild and recovery is usually complete within a week.

So, what's all the fuss about?

Not every case is mild, and even people who appear healthy have been hit hard by the virus. So far, 30 people in the UK are thought to have died after contracting the virus. There are groups at higher risk of infection and complications. Children up to 14 have had the largest number of infections. Babies under the age of one have underdeveloped immune systems and are more at risk of complications, as are obese patients, and those with diabetes, kidney and heart disease and respiratory disorders.

And pregnant women?

Yes. Pregnant women who fall sick should seek advice from a doctor. During pregnancy, a woman's immune system is weakened and more susceptible to all infections. Women in the third trimester are considered more at risk.

So can it be cured?

There is no cure but there is medication that can lessen the impact. If the National Pandemic Flu Service believes you have swine flu, an authorisation code to collect antiviral medication will be issued. Familiar flu medications containing paracetamol may also relieve symptoms by reducing fever. Taking plenty of fluids has also been advised. A vaccine is in development with people in high-risk categories likely to get access to the first batches, expected to be ready in the UK by early September.

How is it spreading?

Just the way the normal, seasonal flu does. People can be infected when they breathe in tiny droplets released as somebody with the virus sneezes or coughs. It can also be passed on from infected surfaces, such as door handles and handrails on trains and buses, as the virus can survive for up to 24 hours on hard surfaces and about 20 minutes on soft surfaces.

Is there anything else I can do now?

To help limit the spread, wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water. Antibacterial, alcohol hand gels can stop the virus. When sneezing, catch all droplets in a clean tissue and dispose in a bin immediately. If you are diagnosed with swine flu, stay at home. Adults are generally infectious to others for five days, children for seven days. Do not go to work until all of the symptoms have cleared and you are fully recovered.

How long will swine flu virus be around?

Nobody knows for certain what course it will take. Health officials are preparing for a second wave in the autumn. It is feared that while most cases are causing mild symptoms, the virus could mutate later, possibly becoming more dangerous and resistant to medication.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Service Desk Analyst- Desktop Support, Helpdesk, ITIL

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

    Service Desk Analyst - (Active Directory, Support, London)

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst - (Active Di...

    Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

    £30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

    Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, VBA)

    £30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

    Day In a Page

    All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
    What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

    What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

    Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
    Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

    Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

    Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
    Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

    Radio 1’s new top ten

    The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
    Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

    Florence Knight's perfect picnic

    Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
    Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

    Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

    The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
    Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

    Mark Hix's summery soups

    Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
    Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

    Tim Sherwood column

    I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
    Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

    Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

    The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition