What's Going On With Swine Flu?

 By: Jon Adams
It's coming up to a year since the initial outbreak of the 2009 swine flu pandemic started in Mexico on the 13th of April where the first death marked the start of many to come. But what should we do now?

There are still an estimated 5000 cases of swine flu in the UK according to the NHS site as of the 7th of January and it makes sense to air on the side of caution still considering the some 14 thousand lab confirmed deaths from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

The general advice at the moment is to cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, using a tissue, disposing of the tissue and to wash your hands regularly, which with the current range of hand sanitiser gels and personal hand sanitisers is an easily managed task. In fact, a good hand sanitiser gel can kill 99.99% of harmful bacteria, viruses and fungi, which is more than a lot of standard soap products.

The use of face masks has yet to be proved effective against stopping swine flu according to government sources, making it a likely vain inconvenience to burden yourself with. General cleanliness around the home or workspace also has shown to help stop the spread, such as wiping down commonly used hard surfaces like door handles or remote controls.

Aside from that it's still a good idea to keep an eye out for the symptoms; tiredness, headaches, runny nose, sore throat, shortness of breath or a cough, loss of appetite, aching, diarrhoea and vomiting. Any two of these symptoms along with a high fever could well be swine flu. Though it isn't advised to ring your GP unless you have some other serious illness, you're pregnant, your sick child is under 1 year old, conditions suddenly get much worse or if conditions are still getting worse after seven days, or five for a child.

If all your efforts to avoid the illness still fail there are several mitigations you can set up. It is advised to have a well stocked home, with 2 weeks supply of generally required things such as food, and to have a ''flu friend'' to go and pick up medication on your behalf. As far as medication goes, Tamiflu and Relenza are free on the NHS and have been shown to shorten the length of time people are affected by the illness and reduce complications when taken within 48 hours of symptoms.

The best advice however, is simply to keep clean and wash your hands and surfaces regularly.
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According to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 35 to 50 million people fall prey to influenza during the flu season (November to March), every year. Viral in nature, influenza is a respiratory disease that is highly contagious. In the year 1918, nearly 100 million people died in the influenza pandemic that spread across the world, including remote regions in the arctic and the pacific islands. It was the worst natural disaster the world ever saw.
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