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Saturday, 9 October 2010

Do you have swine flu (influenza A H1N1)?

The most common symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of seasonal flu, including fever, weakness and fatigue and aching muscles and joints, although, these could be more severe. Certain people are most at risk, including pregnant women, the elderly and young children and people with underlying health conditions.

What is swine flu and how serious is it?

Go to NHS Choices for health advice on swine flu, including causes, symptoms, prevention and treatment

A new strain of Influenza A (H1N1), also known as swine flu, was confirmed in the UK in April and has spread to nearly 200 countries around the world.

Although symptoms have generally proved mild, a small number of patients will develop more serious illness. Many of these people have other underlying health conditions, such as heart or lung disease, that put them at increased risk.

Symptoms

Patients with swine flu typically have a fever or a high temperature (over 38°C / 100.4°F) and two or more of the following symptoms:

  • unusual tiredness
  • headache
  • runny nose
  • sore throat
  • shortness of breath or cough
  • loss of appetite
  • aching muscles
  • diarrhoea or vomiting

As with any sort of influenza, how bad and how long the symptoms last will depend on treatment and the patient’s individual circumstances.

Most cases reported in the UK have been relatively mild, with those affected starting to recover within a week.

Who is at risk?

Some groups of people are more at risk of serious illness if they catch swine flu. It is vital that people in these higher risk groups get anti-viral drugs and start taking them as soon as possible – within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.

Health authorities are still learning about the swine flu virus, but the following people are known to be at higher risk:

  • pregnant women
  • people aged 65 years and older
  • young children under five years old

People suffering from the following illnesses are also at increased risk:

  • chronic lung disease
  • chronic heart disease
  • chronic kidney disease
  • chronic liver disease
  • chronic neurological disease
  • Immunosuppression (whether caused by disease or treatment)
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • patients who have had drug treatment for asthma within the past three years

If you think you have swine flu

If you think you have swine flu symptoms, stay at home and contact your GP.

They will be able to assess you and decide what treatment is appropriate.

Advice for businesses

Follow the link below for information on how to prepare your business for swine flu.

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Additional links

Top tips for summer

Information leaflet

Swine flu information leaflets

This Department of Health leaflet has been delivered to homes nationwide

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