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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

The UK Government site (www.direct.gov.uk) advises contacting the National Pandemic Flu Service if you feel like 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 Vaccine

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

 PDF (Size: 302 Kb Type: pdf )

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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


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Department of Health



UK government www.direct.gov.uk/

Heart of Birmingham Care Trust (NHS) - The Trust's website includes information and useful links


World Health Organisation

BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-21194090
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


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