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.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
News
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
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

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

    £40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

    Guru Careers: Software Developer

    £35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

    Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

    £25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine