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Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Aiming for some perspective on swine flu

I thought it about time that I addressed the issue of swine flu here, having perhaps unintentionally avoided doing so, so far!

It is understandable that people will be worried when they hear about the potential number of fatalities that may arise due to the pandemic. However, it should be remembered that these are worst case scenarios, to enable government to plan.

I would urge everyone to follow the recommended advice and telephone their doctor or NHS Direct, rather than physically going to the surgery, if they have symptoms and are concerned.

In most cases, it will be a mild illness and the vast majority of people will recover quickly by taking paracetamol or ibuprofen, and drinking plenty of fluids. Anyone who is not recovering quickly or who is in a more vulnerable group, for example young children, pregnant women, or those with underlying health conditions, should get extra advice as a small number will need more intensive treatment.

The message we need to get across is it's a pandemic flu - this is new, we haven't seen this before and yes, most of us will probably catch it.

It is important to remember that every year there are deaths from complications of seasonal flu; this is unfortunately inevitable with any strain of influenza. But following the recommended advice should minimise the risk.

Simple but effective hygiene measures such as frequent hand-washing can also help. Cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then put the tissue into a bin and remember the phrase which is fast becoming a mantra amongst healthcare professionals – “catch it, bin it, kill it!”

The latest information from the Welsh Assembly Government on swine flu can be found here.

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