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Swine Flu Q & A

Swine flu is a form of influenza that originated in pigs but can be caught by, and spread among, people.
Q: If someone who has been to the affected areas of Mexico and/or the USA is feeling sick what should they do?
A: Anyone who has recently traveled to the affected areas and is experiencing influenza like illness should stay at home to limit contact with others, and seek medical advice by contacting NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or by calling their GP surgery.
Q: What are the symptoms of swine flu?
A: The symptoms of swine flu in people are expected to be similar to the symptoms of regular human seasonal influenza and include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people with swine flu also have reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
You do not need to worry if you have flu-like symptoms and have not recently been to the affected areas or been in contact with people that may have.
Q: Is this swine flu virus contagious?
A: Yes. This virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. But, at this time, we dont know how easily the virus spreads between people.
Q: Is a flu pandemic imminent?
A: The World Health Organisation (WHO) is closely monitoring cases of this new flu virus and has recently raised the alert level to four, two steps below a full pandemic.
A pandemic is not inevitable and may still not happen.
Q: What can the public do?
A: General infection control practices and good respiratory hand hygiene can help to reduce transmission of all viruses, including the swine flu. This includes:
  • Covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, using a tissue when possible.
  • Disposing of dirty tissues promptly and carefully.
  • Maintaining good basic hygiene, for example washing hands frequently with soap and water to reduce the spread of the virus from your hands to face or to other people.
  • Cleaning hard surfaces (e.g. door handles) frequently using a normal cleaning product.
  • Making sure your children follow this advice.
Q: What is being done to prepare for a pandemic?
A: The health service across the UK is preparing for a pandemic, and has been planning for more than five years. The UK government is working with the WHO to monitor the situation. If pandemic flu does arrive in the UK, antiviral medicine will be used to treat people who become ill.
While the development of a vaccine can only start once the new virus has been identified, the UK has agreements with manufacturers, which will produce a vaccine when it becomes available.
Q: Can people catch swine flu from eating pork?
A: No. Swine influenza viruses are not transmitted by food. You can not get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork and pork products are safe. Cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160F kills the swine flu virus as it does other bacteria and viruses.
Q: Where can I find out more information?
A: You can visit the website to find all the latest information on Swine Flu or the Health Protection Agency at or through a respective Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).

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