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Swine Flu update

young people are more at risk Officials urge public not to panic

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Post-mortem examinations on the two most recent swine flu fatalities in the UK are being carried out to determine the exact cause of death.

Last week six year old Chloe Buckley and Dr Michael Day died after contracting the disease. So far both have been described as being in good health with no underlying problems. This follows on from the death earlier this month of a patient in Essex who was confirmed to have no other conditions.

Officials have urged the public not to panic in face of the recent deaths, which brings the total number of confirmed deaths involving swine flu in the UK to 17.

Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the British Medical Association's GP's Committee, said: "We must remember that every year there are deaths from complications of seasonal flu - this is unfortunately inevitable with any strain of influenza."

UK health officials insist that the country is well placed to cope with the outbreak, with plans to vaccinate the entire population being discussed. Although most people recover quickly from the disease, a small minority of healthy people have died for reasons "poorly understood."

Looking out for the symptoms

Doctors and people need to be alert to warning signs that the virus may cause more severe illness requiring immediate medical attention. These include:

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • A high temperature lasting more than three days

In children, additional warning signs to look out for include:

  • Difficulty in waking up
  • Lethargy
  • Lacking alertness

What you can do to protect yourself and your family

"Coughs and sneezes spread diseases"

How true. All flu viruses are passed on from person to person through the air. It’s carried by droplets or aerosols produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

You can also catch it through touching a surface or person contaminated with the virus, then touching your own face. Good hygiene is one way to reduce your risk:

  • Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing, use a tissue where possible
  • Throw the tissue in the bin after you use it. Don’t leave it lying around
  • Maintain good basic hygiene. Wash hands frequently with soap and water to stop the virus spreading from hands to face, or to other people
  • Clean hard surfaces (e.g. door handles) regularly using normal cleaning products
  • Ensure your children follow this advice

More information

NHS Choices information on Swine Flu

This article was published on Tue 14 July 2009

Image © Václav Hroch -

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