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With daily news reports advising on the progression of the swine flu pandemic, Occupational Medicals would like to help advise our clients on the most common answers to questions being asked by employees. The World health Organisation’s (WHO) Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan has raised the influenza alert to Phase 6 pandemic level, which is the highest level given by the WHO. As of Wednesday 24th June 2009 the WHO reported 55 867 cases and 238 deaths worldwide

What is swine flu?

Influenza A (H1N1) more commonly known as “Swine Flu” is a respiratory disease that affects pigs.

Is swine flu contagious?

Yes, swine flu is acute and a highly contagious respiratory disease. In humans the first 5 days are when the virus is most contagious, however more commonly the virus can be contagious for up to 10 days in children.

Is swine flu transmitted directly from pigs to humans?

It is not common for the swine flu virus to be transmitted from pigs to humans. The current swine flu outbreak in humans is believed to be a new strain of the Influenza A virus subtype (H1N1). This strain can be transmitted from human to human and causes the same symptoms as influenza.

Flu And Travel Vaccinations

What are the symptoms of swine flu?

Symptoms are very similar to those of normal influenza. These include fever, loss of appetite, cough or shortness of breath, headache, tiredness, aching muscles, sore throat, runny nose and sneezing. The 2009 outbreak has also shown an increased percentage of patients reporting diarrhoea and vomiting.

How is swine flu diagnosed?

To confirm a diagnosis of swine flu laboratory testing is required. This involves a respiratory sample being given in the form of a simple throat or nose swab.

How is swine flu spread?

Tiny droplets in a cough or sneeze can contribute to the spread of swine flu and all types of influenza. These droplets can remain on surfaces where others can pick it up. Examples of this would be a telephone, door handle, table surfaces and many everyday objects.

Is there a vaccination?

No. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and scientists around the globe are currently working hard to develop a vaccination against the current swine flu virus. Normal productions for the seasonal flu vaccination are in production and will be available during the flu season as normal. Once the vaccination for swine flu has been produced and tested it will be made available to health organisations. The government has noted that orders for the vaccine have been placed and it would enable vaccination of the entire UK population.

To see how Occupational Medicals can advise on preventative measures you can introduce into your workforce, please *give one of our team a ring on 01344 753368
or fill in the comment section below* and send it to us.

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