Travel health

Swine Flu: health update 13 May 09

A Swine Flu pandemic is imminent but not yet cerain according to WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) swine flu pandemic alert level is currently set at Phase 5, its second highest level. This means that human to human transmission of the virus has occurred in at least two countries, and a pandemic is imminent, but not a foregone conclusion.

The Foreign office is still advising against all but essential travel to Mexico. According to latest figures released by the WHO, a total of 5,728 people have now been infected with the influenza A (H1N1) virus, including 61 deaths. Countries hardest hit by the disease are all in the Americas - Mexico, USA and Canada. The United States has now overtaken Mexico with the highest number of confirmed cases of swine flu, 3009 compared to 2059, including three deaths. Outside Mexico, the five people who have died as a result of swine flu had pre-existing health conditions.

In Europe, a total of 210 confirmed cases of swine flu have been reported to date. Sixty eight of these have occurred in the UK, with a further three hundred people awaiting test results.

Advice for UK travellers to affected areas

If you are travelling to an affected area,

  • consult your GP before travelling. This is even more important if you have a pre-existing medical conditions.
  • before travelling, check the Foreign Office website (listed at the end of this article) for travel advice specific for the country you plan to visit. This is updated regularly.

For the same advice, telephone 0845 850 2829. The line is available 24 hours a day. To minimise your risk of catching the virus, good respiratory and hand hygiene is essential, including:

  • covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, use a tissue
  • throwing tissues away quickly and carefully
  • washing hands regularly with soap and water
  • cleaning hard surfaces (like door handles and remote controls) frequently with a normal cleaning product

Advice for returning travellers

If you have recently visited one of the countries or areas where human cases of influenza have been identified, it is important to monitor your health closely for seven days after your visit to the affected area. There is no need to isolate yourself from other people as long as you feel well.

During this period, if you develop a feverish illness accompanied by one or more of the following:

  • cough
  • sore throat
  • headache
  • aching muscles and joints
  • runny nose
  • severe weakness and fatigue

you should stay at home and contact your GP by ‘phone or seek advice from NHS Direct (0845 4647). It is important your GP is told about your recent travel to an affected area. Depending on the symptoms, further investigations may be necessary. Doctors have been asked to consider swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection when assessing returning travellers and visitors to the UK who present with flu-like symptoms and have a history of travel to affected areas in the 7 days preceding illness

More information

Flu symptom checker www.NHSdirect.nhs.uk Foreign and Commonwealth Office: www.fco.gov.uk

Cases by Country at 13 May 2009, Source WHO

**Country**
**Confirmed Cases **
** **
Mexico
2059 (56 deaths)
USA
3009 (3 deaths)
Canada
358 (1 death)
Spain
98
UK
68
Panama
29
France
13
Germany
12
Italy
9
Costa Rica
8 (1 death)
Brazil
8
Israel
7
New Zealand
7
Columbia
6
Japan
4
El Salvador
4
Republic of Korea
3
Netherlands
3
China
3
Guatemala
3
Sweden
2
Norway
2
Thailand
2
Finland
2
Argentina
1
Austria
1
Australia
1
Denmark
1
Switzerland
1
Ireland
1
Portugal
1
Poland
1
Cuba
1
** **
** **

This article was published on Wed 13 May 2009



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