Swine flu caused pandemic in Asia in 2009

Swine flu caused a pandemic in the UK six years ago

Parents in the south-west of England have been instructed to keep their children at home if they catch swine flu, amid fears the virus could spark an outbreak.

Public Health officials in the region have issued a warning about flu viruses, including the H1N1 virus, and advised parents on good hygiene practices, the Plymouth Herald reported. 

The virus caused a flu pandemic in the UK 2009. So what are the symptoms, and should we be worried? 

What is swine flu?

Swine flu is the common name for the H1N1 virus. It was given this name because it is similar to a form of the virus seen in pigs, according to the NHS.

Should I be worried?

Swine flu caused a pandemic in Asia between 2009 and 2010. But in 2010, the World Health Organisation confirmed that the outbreak was over.

Now, H1N1 is one of the seasonal flu viruses that circulate each year – but the fear surrounding the pandemic is still associated with it. 

Swine flu is no more dangerous than the other flus which strike in winter: influenza virus B and H3N2.

However, the flu can be serious for those who are vulnerable, including as those with existing long-term health conditions, or who are undergoing treatment such as chemotherapy. 

That is why pregnant women, over 65s, those with long term health conditions, the very overweight, carers, health and social workers or people live in residential care are eligible for a free jab on the NHS. 

Dr Richard Pedbody, the head of surveillance at Public Health England, wrote on their website:  “For most people influenza infection is just a nasty experience, but for some it can lead to illnesses that are more serious, including bronchitis and secondary bacterial pneumonia, which can be life threatening. 

“Previous flu seasons dominated by A(H1N1)pdm09 suggest this strain particularly affects children, pregnant women, and adults with long term conditions like chronic heart disease, liver disease, neurological disease and respiratory disease in particular.”

What are the symptoms?

Swine flu causes similar symptoms to other types of the virus. These include: a sudden temperature above 38C; muscle or joint pain; a headache; a runny or blocked nose, and feeling tired.

Should I visit the GP?

The NHS advices those who are fit and healthy to care for themselves at home until the symptoms subside on their own. 

But those in vulnerable groups, such as children under two, over 65s, pregnant women, those with long-term health conditions or weak immune systems should visit their doctor.