“ The new virus has made the jump from pigs to humans and has demonstrated it can also pass from human to human. Like other types of flu, it passes from human to human either through coughing, sneezing, or by touching infected surfaces, although little is known about how the virus acts on humans. „
First of all I will start this review off with some facts about Swine flu before telling you my account of suffering from it last year.
Swine flu is a strain of the very common influenza virus. It is thought to have been initiated from pigs which is where it has gotten its name. The symptoms of swine flu are very similar to normal flu, such as:
* High fever over approximately 40 degrees
* Aching body/muscles most often the legs
* Sore throat
However there are other symptoms that have only been shown to occur with swine flu sufferers like:
However not all of these symptoms require drastic medical care there are a list of much more severe symptoms which are very important to get recognised early on and to seek medical advice from them these include:
* Fever with rash
* Problems with breathing like pain or tightening of the chest causing breathlessness
* Persistent vomiting
* Bluish coloured skin
However just like many other illnesses and viruses a certain percentage of the population are more at risk than others if they catch it for example, those with heart disease or liver disease. Those over the age of 65 years old and those under the age of 5 years old would also be more at risk as their immune systems are weaker. Therefore there is a swine flu vaccination for these people.
There is no specific time period with swine flu, like normal flu, that symptoms are supposed to last for. They can vary from person to person. It must also be remembered that many of these symptoms of swine flu may be part of symptoms for another virus or illness.
Now looking at treatments these are similar for swine flu as they are for normal flu.
First of all anybody suffering from symptoms that seem to be like Swine flu should not leave the house to visit a doctor because of the contagiousness of it. So they should speak on the phone to a doctor who will guide them through regular appointment questions to diagnose the virus or illness properly. They will then recommend the treatment they are required to take.
The treatments include:
* Paracetamol to take the fever down and relieve the headache and sore throat
* Also something along the lines of ibuprofen (an anti inflammatory) can be used which will help the fever as well as the pain and aching muscles. Ibuprofen can usually be used alongside paracetamol but there are side effects such as a stomach ache and sickness feeling from this.
* Swine flu can also be treated with anti virals like the most common one called Tamiflu which will help to relieve the symptoms as well as reduce the number of days that the person suffers from the swine flu, however this also has many side effects like nausea which can be problematic because if continual vomiting occurs it takes away the use of the anti virals and other medication. Antivirals are specifically or primarily given to those that are higher at risk of longer term problems from the swine flu but they are still often given to a lot of other people who suffer from swine flu.
* Antibiotics can also be prescribed but this will only treat the bacterial infection to help to prevent the swine flu from snowballing into another virus or illness.
Overall there is now a large range of treatments for sufferers of swine flu but antivirals are most probably the last resort, treatment wise. It is best to start off with the easier treatments to the body like paracetamol.
***How I suffered from Swine flu***
I suffered from swine flu last year, it struck two nights before Christmas! (Just my luck!) My dad had asked me to go to Sainsburys for him for a few last minute bits and pieces for Christmas lunch. My dad is very particular on the bits he wants from Sainsburys and I seem to be the only one he trusts to get him the right things. However he had definitely asked the wrong person on this particular day. I had felt a bit overtired that morning but once I got to Sainsburys with the overwhelming volume of people fighting over bits and pieces down every aisle I started to feel very claustrophobic and dizzy. I held onto my trolley hoping I wasn't about to faint. Lucky for me this dizziness then passed and I got all the bits I thought dad required. However once I had gotten home I realised that 5 out of the 6 things on his list I had gotten completely wrong and looking back it was because this swine flu was overtaking me before I had even known it. For example, he asked for a specific custard and I had picked up double cream which shows I wasn't all their in the head at that particular moment.
Once I was home I had a terrible migraine and the rest of the family was going out for a quick meal for lunch but I really wasn't feeling great and went straight to bed. Later on I woke up and I had to try to entertain some of my cousins which I really wasn't fit to do. Later on into the evening everybody commented saying I looked under the weather and I had an early night. Then going into the night I got progressively worse. A ridiculously high temperature, aching legs, migraine, fatigue and sore throat. The problem with the swine flu though is that despite being so tired the aching in your muscles seems to prevent you from sleeping.
However we hadn't realised it was swine flu until 2 days later when it triggered in my dad's head what it might be and he rang the NHS helpline to ask about it. They spoke to me on the phone to try and diagnose what I had and they said it was swine flu.
I was told to take paracetamol and ibuprofen for the next day until my dad had picked up the tamiflu. But after my first antiviral tablet (tamiflu) I was instantly sick and then I had another one later that day and the same happened. The antiviral seemed to make me feel far worse than better so I refused to have any more of them. 5 days later I was back to normal again. But I have to say it was one of the worst times in my life. I had absolutely no Christmas and I missed out on seeing all my family. It takes you over so quickly.
Luckily there are lots of signs and symptoms to diagnose Swine flu quickly and there are a lot of effective treatments. But I have to say that I wouldn't wish Swine Flu on my worst enemy! I hope you never get it!
After months of media hysteria and panic, swine flu appears to have made itself known in our household. To be honest, I was starting to wonder whether the whole Swine Flu phenomenon was an elaborate hoax, designed to see just how many millions of people would claim to have developed this fabricated condition in order to skive a few weeks off work!
I think we all familiar with the Swine Flu pandemic now. It was first recognised in Mexico back in around May 2009 and I can clearly remember the media coverage at the time, which was, as usual, concentrating on the worst possible scenarios and reporting a (relatively small) number of deaths that had resulted from this particular strain of the 'flu virus. As is usual, all of this scaremongering resulted in a mass exodus from Mexico and panic and over-reaction as people tried to keep this supposedly 'killer disease' away from other countries, unsuccessfully as we all know.
Now, I'm fairly sure that I've experienced the impact of Swine Flu directly as we think that our two year old has been suffering with the illness over the past four or five days. I can't be sure though as the route for a diagnosis is, bizarrely, either via a telephone helpline or online! Even trying to make contact with our GP surgery for some advice about our son's health ended up with us being diverted to the telephone helpline instead. I just find the whole idea of a 'virtual diagnosis' of this kind impersonal, to say the least but, more importantly, potentially dangerous.
My son first started with some vomiting on the Wednesday morning. This was a single episode, not the violent repeated sickness that is usual with a stomach bug, for example. He also had a mild cough and cold, although to be fair that isn't that unusual for our two year old, as he seems to have one continuously anyway. As the day progressed, he seemed to get weaker and started to refuse food and he had a raging temperature. That evening he woke repeatedly through the night, just generally unsettled.
It was the following day that we started to wonder whether he could have caught swine flu. My husband logged on to the official Swine Flu website and discovered that our child had virtually every single one of the possible symptoms of Swine Flu! This was confirmed by the online diagnosis which resulted in us being provided with a code so that we could collect Tamiflu to administer to our son at home. Although the site itself was fairly positive about the safety of Tamiflu when given to children, there has been discussion about the potential side effects. The site stated that Tamiflu reduces the time that a patient experiences the symptoms by around 24 hours. On that basis, given the potential for side effects, we didn't really feel that the benefits of trying to administer Tamifu to an already unsettled child were worth it and decided not to collect his prescription.
Over the next couple of days, my little one's symptoms continued. He ate little and was sick a couple of times (although again, just single episodes so unlike a bug.) He also had a temperature on and off and was generally very lethargic and unsettled and complained that his legs hurt when his nappy was changed. He was, overall, a pretty unhappy little boy! Thankfully, he appears to be well on the way to recovery now and hopefully is over the worst. He asked for his advent calendar chocolate yesterday afternoon which we took as a good sign and seems to have got his appetite back a little, although he is still very lethargic and weak.
Although Swine Flu is not the path to certain death that we all panicked into believing just a few months ago, there has been a lot of media coverage about sufferers dying as a result of catching the disease. We're reassuringly told that the majority of these had 'underlying health conditions'. Unfortunately, the official Swine Flu sources of information including both the website and the helpline that we've needed to use this week, are pretty vague about what this actually means. More concerning is the fact that people might not be aware about the underlying health conditions until they catch Swine Flu.
As soon as we told my Mother In Law about our little one's illness, she regaled us with tales in the newspapers about children who have been wrongly diagnosed as a result of the online/telephoned diagnosis and turned out to be suffering from much more serious conditions such as meningitis. Other children have been suffering from relatively mild (but untreated) conditions such as tonsilitis and this coupled with Swine Flu has made the children severely ill, needing hospitalisation. All of this sort of potential for extra complications made us very anxious as parents and this was made worse as we didn't have the benefit of speaking directly to a health professional for some personal reassurance.
All of these sorts of potential complications and issues are, at some point, mentioned within the official Swine Flu website but it is particularly vague about how to identify which children or adults are likely to be more vulnerable than others. It was also particularly frustrating that the whole system was automated meaning that there wasn't the opportunity to discuss concerns and particular queries with a human being. As soon as Swine Flu is mentioned, you are directed to the helpline or the website and encouraged to have as little contact with the outside world as possible.
I do understand the reasoning behind setting up the helpline and website as it is clearly a resource implication if everybody who believes themselves be to be suffering from Swine Flu tries to see their own GP, as well as passing on the flu to other potentially vulnerable people. I think there is too little thought behind the automated diagnosis system though and I think it should at least be staffed by qualified medical practitioners, not a online process or a helpline staffed by people with no previous medical knowledge. That would at least help to allay people's anxiety and minimise the likelihood of wrongful diagnoses.
Now our biggest concern is that the Swine Flu will be selecting its next victim amongst our family. What's the odds that one (or more) of us will be struck down on Christmas Day!
Dave and I are in the process of recovering from a bout of Swine Flu and I thought I would tell you how it had affected us in case it might help others.
As a lot of you know Dave is currently working in Edinburgh on contract and comes home every other weekend. He came home at the end of September and we manned a stall selling lifeboat souvenirs at a conference at our local theatre.
During that weekend Dave commented once or twice that he felt as though he had a cold coming and to be fair, I didn't take much notice of him, as he often says that and it comes to nothing. You know what men are like for suffering! LOL!
By the Sunday evening he did seem to have a cold starting as he had a sore throat and a stuffy head, and during Monday it gradually got worse and by Tuesday I had started with it too.
At this stage we both thought that we had bad colds as we had runny noses, really bad sore throats and productive coughs. We both also felt queasy for a while after we ate anything but we put it down to the fact that there was so much mucus in our throats. At this stage we were taking Lemsip and just generally looking after ourselves.
Dave also had a tickly cough which troubled him a bit during the day but mostly at night. He would wake up coughing and would continue to cough for an hour or more - that was great fun for both of us as you can imagine! LOL! One or two nights saw us sitting drinking Lemsip at 2am!
Obviously Dave did not go back to Scotland - he took a week off assuming that would be enough to get rid of the 'cold'.
On the Sunday, a week after his symptoms had really started, he woke with the worst headache he had ever had. It made him sick and I was quite worried about him so I rang NHS Direct and took advice about how to help. The nurse was very good and told me to lay a cold flannel across his forehead and get him to relax in a darkened room. She also suggested getting painkilling strips for his head as he couldn't keep paracetemol down. Luckily after relaxing for an hour or so in bed his headache began to subside although he was quite rough for the rest of the day.
As luck would have it, I actually felt quite a bit better that day so I was able to look after him.
Obviously the following day, being Monday, he should have been travelling back to Scotland but he wasn't well enough so he made an appointment at the doctors. I didn't accompany him as I was feeling quite rough again that day.
He returned from the doctors with a prescription for antibiotics and decongestants and the news that he had probably had swine flu! He was told that it wasn't worth giving him Tamiflu as it needs to be given within the first few days of the disease. Dave had asked the doctor whether he could take a prescription for me as well but the doctor said that he wanted to see me as I have Diabetes and as such am in the 'at risk' group.
I had an appointment the following day and the doctor told me that I had swine flu and he gave me Tamiflu. He said that, had I not been diabetic he would not have given me Tamiflu as I had already had the disease for 6 days by then but that he wanted to be on the safe side so he gave me enough for a 5 day course of the tablets.
We started to look at swine flu on the internet and found that the symptoms were as follows:
A fever or high temperature (over 38°C/100.4°F) and two or more of the following symptoms:
* unusual tiredness
* runny nose
* sore throat
* shortness of breath or cough
* loss of appetite
* aching muscles
* diarrhoea or vomiting
Once we read this we realised that we had suffered all of the symptoms over the previous week or so. The reasons that we didn't even think about swine flu were threefold.
Firstly neither of us had a consistent high temperature although the doctor did tell us that the fact that we had been taking Lemsip which contains paracetemol had probably kept our temperatures down.
Secondly the symptoms didn't occur all at once. It was almost like having lots of illnesses one after another. Some days we would wake up feeling much better and then the next day we would be worse again.
Thirdly we expected swine flu to be more like the flu that is around each year. I know that you hear of some people saying that they have had flu and have continued working but believe me, if you can still go to work, you don't have flu! I have only had flu once and I could barely get out of bed. In fact I heard a good way of differentiating between colds and flu - imagine there is a £20 note on your driveway - if you feel well enough to walk out to it and pick it up you have a cold, if you do not feel able to do that you have flu!
Before suffering from swine flu we would have expected it to really knock us off our feet like that but it didn't! It was more like a really nasty cold with lots of different symptoms which kept occurring and recurring over a couple of weeks.
The Tamiflu for me and antibiotics for Dave sorted us out and by the end of the week we were both feeling much better. The only problem now is that we feel absolutely exhausted as soon as we do the smallest amount of exercise!
Dave did manage to drive back to Scotland at the weekend after having a fortnight off work and he is back at work now although he is very tired. Luckily he works with nice people who will make sure that he is OK!
I am still at home as usual but I am under strict instructions from Dave not to overdo things! I am still feeling tired but am gradually getting better each day so I am just being careful how much I do for now - that's my story and I'm sticking to it! LOL!
The thing that now interests me is how the statistics of people with swine flu are calculated. There are no tests being performed and the symptoms are so unlike the flu that we are all familiar with how on earth are you supposed to know when you have it?
It is also quite scary to think that there will be people who just do not realise that they have the disease until they have infected many others! How many of us carry on as normal when we have a cold? We go shopping and socialise and some even go to work with a sore throat and stuffy nose and yet this is exactly how swine flu started for both of us!
Anyway that's how swine flu affected us. Obviously I can't say whether it affects everyone in the same way or whether the symptoms differ from person to person.
Incidentally we will still have the swine flu injections when they become available (I have Diabetes and Dave has Asthma) as the doctor told us that the virus could mutate and we could catch it again although it would be unlikely to be as severe the second time around.
So there you are that is our experience of swine flu and, although it wasn't very pleasant, it certainly wasn't as bad as the media have been making it out to be.
If you have any questions feel free to ask as I am happy to help if I can.
Its important to be well aware of the swine flu and a potential outbreak but not to panic. You need to take precautions to maintain a clean environment and try to minimize your chances of getting sick with very basic, common sense activities.
I'm always watching CNN and it seems almost daily now that they're interviewing someone from the Center for Disease Control or reporting on various states setting rules to determine how many cases of swine flu are required to shut a school down, where people can get vaccinated and so on.
It is very unsettling to think about. Realistically, the regular flu seems to pose a bigger threat to people since more have died from that just within the last year or so. The problem with this new swine flu is the speculation that it shall become resistant to treatment and grow into a huge situation where many around the world will die. With people traveling around the world, the disease has been able to thrive and appear everywhere, so noplace is really safe if the swine flu gets worse.
You can't allow fear of the swine flu to suddenly prohibit you from functioning in your daily responsibilities. Being stressed out has a negative affect on your immune system making you even more likely to fall ill. I think what the CDC is recommending is wise. If your child is sick, keep them home until they're better. Carry a hand sanitizer, wash your hands often, cough into your sleeve not your hand, keep lozengers handy if you are sick, etc.
Overall from what I hear from the cases that happened before this past summer, many people get better rather quickly. Its like the regular flu which just about everyone has experienced sometime or multiple times in their life. You stay home, get rest, eat well.. and within a couple of days you should be back on your feet.
One thing that worries me though are children. In instances were families are poor and children's only methods of getting a hot breakfast or lunch is by going to school, if they were sick, they wouldn't be able to eat. Their parents might then just send them to school anyway just for food and they could infect other students. Its a sad state of affairs but I doubt everyone is going to strictly follow the guidelines and recommendations by the CDC.
At the same time, while this swine flu is still generally new and hasn't claimed many lives yet considering the world population, I can also see people taking advantage of it. Students lying about feeling ill and claiming to have swine flu just to dodge exams or people trying to get an extra 3 day weekend from work.
You can't live in a bubble and avoid the swine flu entirely. If someone is sick and on a bus or train and you're on it, what can you do? How many times do you go out and people cough and sneeze around you and you don't end up sick? You just can't let the big hype over the swine flu make you go insane.
Its also important to be aware that eating pork won't make you sick! The disease can't pass on to humans if we consume pork.
I personally don't let it bother me. I wash my hands & use sanitzer all the time anyway. I like to take zinc vitamins to help boost my immune system, especially in the winter which really helps me avoid getting sick.. and you know - eat healthy -apples, oranges, salads.. keep your body strong and stay optimistic.
For about two months, the UK went mad. People on the underground were donning masks and not touching anything, a hotline was set up for swine flu that was so busy it was always engaged, and even I, whilst doing some food shopping whilst looking very healthy, had to sneezed because of a tickle in my nose, and it sent the shopper I was next to running away from me, worried I would infect her.
Thank god it's over now! I mean for heaven's sake, how much did the media want to send fear into the country? For a second I thought we were in America!
Swine flu covered headlines in Newspapers and sent 'Breaking News' bulletins across British TV stations. We kept hearing of new outbreaks in different parts of the country. Every time I'd read "The first person to have Swine Flu in East Anglia.." and "More with Swine Flu in East Anglia" it actually made me want to rip the newspaper to shreds. For a month, I assumed it would never come near me and I'd never experience it. One of those 'it always happens to other people' kind of thing.
Well, then my mum's friend got it. But I never see her, they aren't even that good friends, so I ignored it. Then my boyfriend's nephew got it. He's only 1, bless him. And unfortunately we were round there when he was diagnosed over the phone (obviously he wasn't on the phone, it was his panic-stricken mum). He received Tamiflu the following morning, and it cleared up pretty quickly. But then I started thinking that it's not as distant as I first thought it was. Someone at work got it, and then a friend got it. But I still couldn't see what panicking about it would achieve.
I know quite a lot of people died from it, and that is very unfortunate, but people die from regular flu every year, may they rest in peace. It is a horrible fact, but the truth. Since when have the media created a massive fuss about the common cold or basic flu symptoms before? Not in my lifetime.
It was such a shame that this 'pandemic' happened at the time it did too. I know a lot of people who felt ill but because they were worried about being made redundant at work due to the current financial climate that the country is in, they just went into work anyway, only to be sent home and told they were an idiot for attempting to come into work.
Then my boyfriend got swine flu a month ago. I was getting worried as I didn't want to be ill, and I didn't want to call in sick. I'd heard my boss say that if anyone thought they had it, he hoped they wouldn't be silly enough to come to work. So I called in and told my work my boyfriend had the flu, and they told me to stay off too. I was back the next day though, as I'd had no symptoms and I found out that unless you're showing signs of it, you're not contagious.
Then when the Government said that you could have two weeks off work without a doctor's note, people were dropping like flies here, there and everywhere. Suddenly everyone 'had' swine flu, or had a cold so had 'better stay off work just in case'. A lot of people thought this was a perfect time to call in sick when they weren't really!
Luckily, the 'pandemic' seems to be over now. I haven't heard the news talk about it in a while. In fact, I haven't heard anyone talk about it in a while. Thankfully I didn't get it myself, but not too long ago NHS Officials were saying it could mutate and get worse and more lethal. Uh oh... maybe I should just climb into a bubble, sit in silence, and pay my taxes... isn't that what they all want us to do...
Now you will probably here a lot of stories in the news about the widespread outbreak of Swine Flu also known as the influenza A virus subtype H1N1, which has caused mass media hysteria for some months now. Now many people may have or may be in the process of writing a review about Swine Flu, but for me i feel as if i should be compelled to write a review, because i am currently at the end cycle of suffering from swine flu, something which i have been suffering for nearly two weeks now. I hope to provide as much information as physically possible, as well as share my experiences regarding the flu. Why? Well because i no just how powerful this nasty flu can be, and my aim is to try and help people currently suffering from it, to try and give some advice and what people should do, and perhaps just make people more aware of what symptoms they should look out for, anything that can either prevent or help to reduce the effects of influenza. I will also be giving some advice about the Tamiflu medication i am currently taking, what the side effects are etc.
I suppose it makes sense that i do give the readers some useful background information about swine flu. Well Swine flu which is also known as H1N1 flu, swine flu, hog flu, and pig flu, is an infectious flue, which is most common in the pig population, however sometimes the strain of virus can be passed onto humans. The type of strain virus, which has effected thousands of people in 2009 is the Strain A virus, which is known to affect both Humans and Pigs. The strain A virus is the virus that has been the headline news all of the world in the past months.
The first ever recorded date the flu first hit was in 1918, their was no idea were the origin of the virus started, however it soon spread throughout the globe and turned into a pandemic, killing 50-100 million people.
In 1976 the flu outbreak once again happened this time in America, vaccinations were handed out to the public, however the fatalities were much smaller, with less than 50 deaths. The flu once again occurred throughout the 80's and then stayed dormant, until 2009, when Mexico recorded the outbreak of Swine Flu and then the subsequent deaths of the numerous people infected.
2009 Flu Outbreak:
We fast forward to 2009, and in particular April 2009, i remember coming home from work early that afternoon, turning on sky news and at the bottom of the screen in highlighted yellow it said breaking news: Swine flu outbreak in Mexico, hundred infected. Now my first thoughts were what is swine flu, i like to think of myself as somewhat intelligent, but even i didn't no what this flu was all about. A quick look on google quickly educated me and i finally got the background information on it. Days and weeks passed and the news was just constantly thumped on the whole swine flu hysteria, people were now dying, and recorded cases were now spreading to the US, and even the U.K, i remember hearing the stories about the UK couple who contracted the virus whilst on holiday, and i was thinking how unlucky for them. So anyway weeks pass, and its said people are actually dieing from this illness, mainly people with other health issues, but a death is still a death, i remember thinking to myself boy am i glad not to be a swine flu carrier, boy was i about to get a big wake up call. In total since its introduction in April this year, Swine flu has over 208,000 cases all around the globe, with a recorded 1700 deaths. These may just look like statistic, but it really does make you think just how many people have been affected by this flu, it only hit me today that I'm one of those 208,000 people. Now i find myself just being another statistic to this global outbreak.
The WHO (World Health Organization) has suggested that this figure will rise dramatically during the winter period, and one should expect this, doctors and scientists are even saying that everyone is likely to be affected its just a matter of time. Words which will make everyone think OMG.
This next section will focus more on my story of how i caught the flu, my journey through it, and what steps i took and so forth.
Well like most people, i figured i would be one of the lucky one's to escape the flu, i don't get colds and flu's often, i always eat my fruit and veg, and thus i had the notion that i was safe from it, but i guess that's never the case. I got home from work on Friday evening, slightly tired, but that was not unusual, i then felt an array of sneezes coming out of my nose, and a slight cough feeling. I thought nothing of it, it had never crossed my mind that anything was wrong i simply dismissed it. Friday, Saturday and Sunday pass, nothing out of the norm, again light coughing, a few sneezes here and their but i thought i was fine, boy was i about to be smacked in the face.
Day 4 Monday Morning the Start of Hell:
Now why not start with day 1, well to be honest i had not felt any affects for the first three days, and i was later told by doctors that if you are infected with Swine Flu, you don't always no you have been infected until the fourth or fifth day, this is when the agony and turmoil begins. I make my way to work in the morning, i have a headache and the cold i thought i had was getting slightly worse. I'm coughing on the train, and people are just starting to stare at me, the feeling of people all just looking at you on the train is not a nice feeling, i instantly thought they think i am a carrier, but i covered my mouth and tried to not cough, hiding the cough at times so i wouldn't be looked at. Arriving to work i started doing my normal duties, again the headache and coughing and sneezing was their, so i took some tablets and thought nothing of it. Around 12:00 i starting getting a stomach ache, i made my way into the bathroom and started splashing cold water to keep me cool, all of a sudden i felt sick in the sink. I haven't been sick since i was 8, and even when i drink i don't vomit, this is when reality really set in, all those cases of swine flu, all those people saying you might have swine flu, it suddenly hit me. I went to see my boss, i explained my symptoms, vomiting, headache, high temperature and i was told to go home, and do the NHS online test.
The journey on the way home was awful, it was hot, i was tired, sweating, coughing, and i even started feeling dizzy, no matter how much water i tried drinking, it was as if my body was trying to spit it back out, i knew i was ill. So i get home, and to my surprise see my mother at home, same symptoms as me and then i knew i had it. So next step i go tohttp://www.direct.gov. uk/en/groups/dg_digitalassets/@dg/@en/documents/digitalasset/dg_178842.htm , and do the online test, answering the questions truthfuly, it was reccomended that i take Tamiflu tablets. It gave me a unique referece code, and gave me a list of local places i could pick it up from.
The notion is that if you have the flu, you should have a flu friend to go and pick up the drugs for you, that's exactly what i did. My friend took the reference number with him, along with my ID, as well as ID for himself, it seems as if they are really careful about who they give it to, its understandable when people are selling Tamiflu on EBay, what idiots.
So the evening comes and I'm tired as hell, i have just managed to eat one slice of toast and sipped as much water as i could, but my body just seems to have shut down, i bones and muscles are aching, temperature is really high, and I'm getting this constant feeling of being sick. I decide to take my dose of Tamiflu and go to bed around 8 o'clock. I manage to sleep through the night, but then its just one day so far.
Day 5, The Pain Begins:
Day 5 occurs, i am lying in bed, body temperature at 102, an I'm seriously ill, my body is aching all over, i felt as if i was trapped in a 100 year old body, i couldn't move, my arms, legs, shoulders were soar and tense, my rips were very tight, i was having problems breathing and i honestly thought i was dying. It took all but 2 hours to get the strength to wake up and go for a shower, i feel hungry and actually manage to eat 2 slices of toast before taking another dose of Tamiflu, big mistake. About an hour after taking the medication, my stomach starts hurting, i feel like I'm being stabbed from the inside, i decide to sit next to the kitchen, and their it comes, i feel sick again. Now i really wasn't sure whether me being sick was due to the flu or due to the medication. The medication does have side effects, some being vomiting and diarrhoea. I done some research, and heard that Tamiflu does have a bad reputation of being something that can actually make you worse, but i wasn't about to give in, i stuck with it and took the pain. Day 5 was the worse for me, the constant coughing, headaches were getting worse and my throat was so soar, all i wanted to do was sleep, which was actually suppose to be a bad idea. I rang the doctor and he said the best idea was to walk around the garden and get some fresh air, which actually helped me alot, it helped calm down the sickness and helped to get my joint points down. Day 5 was the worst, i had been through pain like i had never been through before, and as the night progressed my temperature was still at 101, i was hot and sweaty, we rang the hospital, and i was told that as my temperature was not as high as 102, and because i had swine flu, they said it would be best if i stayed at home, telling my parents to monitor me over night. I mean that just really pissed me off, i was 1 degree out of their required criteria and they didn't want me anywhere near them. Gradually my temperature went down and i started drinking more water, finally getting to sleep at 2 am.
Day 6 More of the Same:
Day 6 was much like day 5, however the only difference was i didn't have a high temperature, and the vomiting had passed, instead i now had diarear, and was getting more and more pissed off with this Tamiflu.
Day 7, The days just get better:
I finally starting feeling better, i could walk about, temperature was down, vomiting and diarear had both stopped, the cough, the sneezing and the breathlessness was still their, but i was told that this was natural.
For the next few days i started getting better, i mean as i am writing this my body pain has all gone, and i only get the occasional headache, but its always worrying to no if your flu has actually fully gone. I rang up work, and made them aware that i was feeling better, but they insisted that i take 5 days to recover, they said it would be in everyone best interest, as passing germs on at work would cause more people to get sick and the cycle would continue, which i actually agreed with. The pain my body went through was enough for me to say that i don't want to pass this onto anyone else, i don't want to be responsible for giving someone else swine flu.
As i write this article/ review or what ever you want to call it i find myself being one of the really lucky ones. I have read the papers and seen the news, people with no underlining health concerns dying from the flu, and i thought thank god that wasn't me.
What To look For:
Now people always ask this question and even i found myself asking the question as to what the difference is between the normal flu and swine flue. To be honest i couldn't tell for the first three days, like most people i thought it was either a small cold, or a small passing flu, the symptoms were not show able yet, i had the cough, the cold, the runny nose, but that's what most people think at first. However, when you start to feel sick, when you might be having diarrhoea, if your joints, muscles and bones are hurting, along with the breathing difficulties then i think you really should speak to the NHS helpline. The important thing is to get a correct diagnoses, you don't want to be getting Tamiflu if you don't have Influenza, because the effects are bad, as my article has noted, the online service is great i used it, but you need to answer the questions truthfully, if you are not sure then you can always ring the hotline, which is;
England: 0800 1 513 100
Scotland: 08454 24 24 24
Wales: 0845 46 47
Northern Ireland: 0800 0514 142
(Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)
Please try and ring as soon as you start getting ill, it is no good leaving it thinking its nothing because the longer you leave it untreated, the more your jeopardising your health as well as the people around you. And remember what they say, catch it, kill it, bin it.
Remember the symptoms you should really look out for are;
- Soar Throat
- Muscle Pains
- Weakness and general body discomfort
- Vomiting and diarrhoea in some cases.
There is a number of medication that you can take to help prevent the pain and help the flu to go away, the common one's which i used were;
Tamiflu, Night nurse, drinking honey in hot water with ginger and paracetamols.
Night Nurse is great for helping to get rid of the symptoms as if it was a normal cold or flu, it also help you get a great nights sleep, and even if you are taking Tamiflu you can mix medication as i have been advised, but only as recommend on the box, theirs no need to over do it with medication. Remember, its about resting.
Paracetamols are good to stop the constant headaches, which you will get during the flu outbreak, i was advised to take one every 2 and a half hours, never exceed what the box tells you.
Now i used Tamiflu after i went through the online process of self examination, however you may have heard that Tamiflu has both a positive and a negative press about it.
Tamiflu also known as Oseltamivir, is a anti viral drug that slows the spread of non-resistant strains of the influenza virus between cells in the body. The drug acts as a transition-state analogue inhibitor of influenza neuraminidase, preventing progeny virions from detaching from infected cells. In other words, it prevents the Flu virus strain from replicating and splitting up, thus reducing the number of cells in the body, allowing medication to attack only the cells that are present in you body. A lot of science behind it which i cant really be bothered to go into, but it seems it worked wonders for me, but not without the side effects.
Tamiflu has a lot of side effects, which can include both stomach aches which can lead to vomiting and diarear. When i started taking these tablets the idea was to take two a day, one in the morning and one in the evening. Every time i took the tablets, an hour would pass before i started feeling really sick, my stomach would be in pain and i would be in the toilet. When you have Influenza the last thing you want is to be ill all day, who would really want to take medication that is suppose to help you get better, but in theory its making you worse for a short period of time.
You don't have to pay for Tamiflu as its free for everyone on the NHS, however i am still troubled that children are also given this drug. The drug worked really well for me, but i am a grown man, i don't really no what the effect is on little children per say. I have heard stories were children are worse off once they take tamiflu, and i really wouldn't want kids to go through the side effects i went through because they can suffer.
Your 'flu friend' - a friend or relative who does not have swine flu - can use this number to pick up your antivirals from the local collection point for you. Your flu friend must show their own ID as well as yours.
Acceptable forms of ID include:
* a utility bill
* a credit or debit card
* driving licence
* NHS card
Antiviral drugs - Tamiflu and Relenza
Swine flu is being treated with antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu and Relenza. Antiviral drugs work by preventing the flu virus from reproducing - to be effective you need to take them within 48 hours of the symptoms beginning. This can reduce the risk of complications and possibly shorten the illness by a day.
If the National Pandemic Flu Service or your GP confirm you have swine flu, you will be told where your nearest antiviral collection point is so your 'flu friend' - a friend or relative who does not have swine flu - can pick up antiviral drugs for you.
Adverse reactions to Tamiflu
In some cases, antiviral medicine can cause side effects, such as:
* stomach ache
Swine flu vaccine
As swine flu is a new virus, a new vaccine had to be developed to deal with it. Vaccinations are expected to begin in late September or October. And i guess once they have got the vaccine licensed and approved everyone will have to take the vaccine, however my question is if i have already suffered from the flu, and if i have already taken my dose of Tamiflu, will their be a need for me to have this vaccine, even just as a precaution?
Vaccine priority groups
The following groups will be prioritised in this order:
1. people aged over six months and under 65 years in seasonal flu vaccine at-risk groups
2. all pregnant women, subject to licensing conditions on trimesters
3. household contacts of people with reduced immune systems - e.g. people in regular close contact with patients on treatment for cancer
4. people aged 65 and over in the seasonal flu vaccine at-risk groups - this does not include otherwise healthy over 65s as they appear to have some natural immunity to the virus
How to use the Online NHS Assessment?
To be honest its actually simple to use and only really takes a few minutes before you get an answer, however if you feel you need to ring up and speak to someone then you should do that, i actually think that is also a good idea. However, to asses online go to;http://www.direct.gov. uk/en/groups/dg_digitalassets/@dg/@en/documents/digitalasset/dg_178842.htm
When you get to the main page it should read pandemic flu and have the picture of the British Isles. If you scroll down, their will be a section called (click here for your symptoms to be assessed), clicking on this will lead you to another page.
First thing you should do is read all the information correctly, you need to read the terms and conditions and agree to them, but once this is done you have got the ball rolling. Each stage will have a specific set of questions which are carefully designed to asses your condition. I really would say answer them truthfully, if you have a cold condition but you don't have a headache or vomiting feeling then you answer no. The questions are different for both men and women, if your a women i believe it asks if your pregnant etc. Once the questions have been done, it will either say you need treatment or your fine. If you need treatment then it will give you a special cod, make sure you right this code down, as without it you wont get your Tamiflu. It will also give you a list of the local place you can pick up you medicine from with regards to you geographic location.
To reduce the risk of catching or spreading the virus you should:
* cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, using a tissue
* throw the tissue away quickly and carefully
* wash your hands regularly with soap and water
* clean hard surfaces (like door handles and remote controls) frequently with a normal cleaning product
Remember please Swine Flu is serious, if you have it please get the help needed, try and rest as much and don't go to work the last thing you really need is to pass this onto someone else.
Stay safe and stay healthy, if anyone needs any advise please contact me i will be more than happy to answer any questions
AHHH! The dreaded pig flu!
Nothing to shrug your shoulders at but the media hype is getting slightly ridiculous. Well the swine flu has made its way round our house and let me be the first to tell you it's not the plague! Obviously I understand that those out there with underlining health issues, the elderly and people along those lines do indeed have a need to worry as with any other type of flu or illness alike but I thought I would share the experiences had by a normally healthy household that were hit by the piggy flu.
I haven't a clue where we got it from but saying that it could have come from anywhere so no point investigating. The first of our family to come under attack was the 10 month old baby. The baby spent the day as himself. He played as normal and showed no signs of not being well. I noticed toward the evening he was very sleepy and that's not normally him at that specific time of day but I put it down to having an active summer day with his older brother. I was woken up in the middle of the night by a very unhappy baby. I spent about an hour up with him before he finally fell back asleep. He felt a bit warm at the time but his temperature was only a bit over the normal so I didn't think twice about it. On a normal day he wakes up about 7:30am but by 9 he was still in bed so I woke him. My elder son went out for the day and when he was leaving (12 noon) the baby got a bit upset. I put it down to his brother leaving but as they drove away he was sick all down me. I cleaned us both up and put him down for a nap. He was only asleep for about half an hour before he started to scream the house down. I took his temperature and it was 104/40. I kept him from sobbing most of the day by walking him around and taking him for a few walks around the block. I gave him baby Nurofen which seemed to calm him a bit. My elder son returned home and for the first time ever the baby wasn't interested in playing with him so I knew something very wrong. His temperature stayed high through the night and at one point he was on my bed just starring at me and looked as if his whole body was aching. His hands and feet were freezing to the touch which I found a bit odd and it was at that point that I phoned our surgery to ask their advice. They sent the on-call doctor round to our house to check him over. The doctor was a bit concerned and said in his opinion there was no question that he had picked up the flu. As he's under 1 year old the doctor got on the phone to the prescription centre to work out if Tamiflu was available. There is a version of Tamiflu (it's called something else but has the same stuff in it) that comes in a liquid form. They worked out the dosage based on his weight. The first dosage came back up within a few minutes but we'd been warned that would probably happen. Since then I've mixed it with a bit of juice and that makes things go a lot easier.
I kept giving him the Nurofen and tried to get him to rest as much as possible and after two more days of him being unhappy and hot he was suddenly himself again. As quickly as it came, it went. He was still sleepy and needed to catch up in that department but that was it.
Needless to say I was in need of a good nights sleep too! I had a cracking headache and a sore throat which I put down to being so sleep deprived. After a good 12 hour nights sleep I still felt rough and both my older lad and I had low fevers. We stayed at home and put a few movies on and rested as much as possible. The doctor did a follow up call today and I explained how we'd felt rough afterwards and he said we'd most likely gotten a bit of it from the baby but obviously not been hit as hard as he was. I still feel like I'm fighting something so hopefully whatever it is will go soon. My other half has managed to avoid getting anything so far (touch wood as he is a terrible patient).
When some friends and family members found out our house had been put on the list of swine flu victims they seemed to freak out and almost put a black mark on us. My cousin wouldn't go to a get together with my mum as she'd seen us two weeks prior to all this and in her mind there was the possibility of her passing on this illness. I understand that she's pregnant and worried but honesty is there really a need for all this!?! I remember when my son first started summer break my aunt was saying it was good they were all out of school as we could keep them at home! I wasn't about to quarantine him at home for 6 weeks! I don't dare tell the ladies at baby group for fear that any sniffle will result in one of them rushing their kids off to A&E. The flu or swine flu can come from anywhere and as my family are normally happy and healthy I wasn't going to hide away. Obviously I wasn't going to go round snogging ill people but you know what I mean.
Swine influenza virus is common throughout pig populations worldwide. Transmission of the virus from pigs to humans is not common and does not always lead to human influenza, often resulting only in the production of antibodies in the blood. If transmission does cause human influenza, it is called zoonotic swine flu. People with regular exposure to pigs are at increased risk of swine flu infection. The meat of an infected animal poses no risk of infection when properly cooked.
The above confirms that what I was thinking was right. I'd heard early on that some countries were closing borders to pork and some were saying we can't get swine flu because pork meat is banded and all this nonsense. The virus is airborn according to the BBC news so surely it can go across borders with or without a piggy companion. I read something recently that said the current flu outbreak isn't actually what they originally thought and isn't related to the pig influenzas but just a new strain of the H1N1 influenza virus which I guess has just mutated by itself over time. I'm not a scientist and don't know much about it so don't quote me here!
"There are fears that swine flu will become a major global pandemic in the winter months, with many countries planning major vaccination campaigns." EEK! Hopefully we don't have it in the house again come winter but at least we've built up some antibodies or whatever to give it a good fight if it does come back again.
I hope none of you reading this will get swine flu and if you do may it go as quickly as it comes. Stay healthy!
Oh yea by the way if you are confused like my mum Tamiflu is not an antidote o the flu. It helps to boast your immune system and can knock off a day of being ill as well as help your body fight off the illness.
Do you need to know more or think you may need help? http://www.direct.gov.uk and look for the link to the pandemic flu bit
Look out for:
chills, fever, sore throat, muscle pains, severe headache, coughing, weakness and general discomfort.
Damn! I can't give it no stars! oh well, one star it is!
© oioiyou 2009
So swine flu breaks out in Mexico. Tyipcal England gets all caught up in the idea, and hypes it up in the news so much that people start to get paranoid about this illness from pigs? Trust the government to make a huge deal about this, anything to get all of the focus off the MP's expenses scam! They know what they are doing, and so they are taking every chance they can to scare more and more people into believing that this illness is the end of the world. As seen in the paper only a few days ago, sadly a 6 year old girl died if swine flu, however why is this such a shock to the country? People die of cancer every day and i dont see them in the newspaper. So everyone is getting so scared they are going to catch swine flu, which is basically a mild case of common flu, nothing to be too worried about, especially when there are tablets to help fight it. Well now it is being said that the whole country are going to be vaccinated against swine flu, but will this be enough to stop this huge craze that has hit our country?
Two cases of swine flu at the local nursery in the last week....classed as 'diagnosed' (but not 'confirmed', since they're not bothering confirming swine flu cases by doing the throat swabs anymore), and another four suspected cases over the same time. News on the grapevine is that the two 'confirmed' little 'uns have been given antivirals and are doing fine.
Own sprog mildly ill with nebulous symptoms (sore throat, temperature) over the weekend. Stinky breath in mornings so tonsilitis, I thought. And felt a bit nebulously ill myself, yesterday. Slight temperature, stomach upsets, etc.
GP unavailable by phone so ran the NHS's Swine Flu on-line symptom checker this morning. The horror, the horror. Tick positive for all sorts of vaguely nebulous symptoms of ill health on the online health checker (sore head, muscles achey, runny nose, loss of appetite, feeling tired etc.) End result: you might have swine flu so telephone your GP.
Tried to ring GP yet again; line still engaged. Given that 'official' advice is to telephone your GP, and that this presumed health crisis has been brewing for months and months, find it slightly odd that very basic measures (e.g. more phone lines and operators for local health centres) have not yet been put in place.
Tried the NHS Swine Flu call number next; 0845 4647. Rotated round the automated call screening process a couple of times; alarmed when heard instuction 'if calling on behalf of an under age sprog or if you are pregnant (personally am 6 months gone), press option two to speak to an operator immediately' - pressed option two accordingly; line when dead following 'this service has now been discontinued' message.
Tried to find local info on Swine Flu via NHS page next. Noted that some of the 'Current Swine Flu Health Crisis' info has not been updated since June 24th (is now July 14th). Ended up, mystifyingly, after inputting home postcode for 'local information' at Stroud District Council's home page looking at basic information on recycling plans for this area; desired 'up to date local information on swine flu' clearly does not exist.
Slightly worried re. being pregnant and possibly swine-flu-infected now; did an AltaVista search for 'swine flu pregnancy' and found UK govt. advice is for all pregnant women to take Tamiflu despite there being no studies that have examined the effects of flu antivirals on developing foetuses.
Sod that for a game of soldiers!
Increasingly fed up with own sustained failure to contact either health professionals or to find coherent / useful government information on the current swine flu crisis, have decided to manage own admittedly mild (and probably therefore not swine flu) symptoms using bed-rest, Lemsip and lots of daytime TV viewing of 'The Jeremy Kyle Show'.
Heaven help us all if the virus mutates into a more virulent form. The way swine flu is not being managed even in its current, not particularly troublesome state - if that happens we'll all definitely have had it.
Swine Flu is a "new" illness which is quickly spreading across the World. Starting off in Mexico in May this year, it very quickly reached the UKs shores, and our Government soon jumped on the bandwagon with Tamiflu been handed out to anyone with flu like symptoms, and people been put in quarentine. When in actual fact, Swine Flu is much like normal flu, and isn't much more if any more dangerous than Seasonal Flu, only that with there been no vaccine available, those at risk (Old, babies and people with underlying health issues) have no protection.
Today, I was "diagnosed" with swine flu...over the internet...!!!
I have had a bad cold for the last few days, it has come on very slowly, and this morning when I woke up I couldn't breathe properly (it hurt when I breathed and I was short of breath) and my throat was tight, I had a temperature, headache, blocked/runny nose and a cough, but mainly because of the tight throat my husband told me to get to the doctors. But I know that if you have any kind of flu like symptoms you should not go to a doctor, and should do a "flu survey" on NHS directs website, and then call NHS.
I did this, answering the questions honestly, the questions are something like "along with a temperature do you have any of the following symptoms: Cough, Blocked nose, Aching limbs, headache, sore throat, shortness of breath" seeing as I had all of this apart from the aching limbs, I answered yes, I went through the rest of the questionnaire, and although in the end it said to stay indoors and take plenty of fluids and paracetamol for the temperature, but then it said I had been allocated TamiFlu antiviral pills at my local centre which I should take for the next 5 days.
I decided it was best to do as NHS said, and my husband went out and got me the pills, which are a yellow and white capsule of about a centimetre long, quite small really, and there are 10 per pack, one to be taken every day for prevention of flu, and two a day to relieve the symptoms of flu. I was told to take two a day, even though I don't have flu, I know that, and the questions I answered showed I didn't have flu, just a nasty nasty cold, which could develop into flu very easily. And the only reason I was going on the site, was to get the all clear so I could then phone my GP and arrange an appointment and tell them that I didn't have the flu, to make sure that my throat wasn't in danger of closing up, which may have needed anti biotics. But now I am quarentined to the house, told not to leave for 5 days until my Tamiflu is all out, and my course has ended.
As far as I am concerned the Government are jumping the gun, handing out Tamiflu to people who don't actually have Swine or any other kind of Flu, but telling people to take it anyway, even though they have clearly told them their exact symptoms. The only way to test 100% for swine flu is via blood test, which cannot be done over a telephone!
I think that these numbers of people with Swine Flu, are actually exagerated, and they are more than likely half what they say, as they are telling people they have swine flu when they don't. If this is swine flu that I have then well it's nothing to moan about! I have had seasonal flu before and it was terrible, couldn't move, or eat, and was like it for two weeks, now yes ok, I feel like rubbish now, and I am hot then cold, then sweating them freezing cold, and perhaps it is a mild strain of Swine Flu, but if it is, I would have cleared up without the use of TamiFlu!!!!
And, if you don't have any strain of flu, if you take TamiFlu it will make you sick, literally will make you vomit, as the anti-virals aren't needed in your body, and they'll make you ill. So if you know you don't have any kind of cold or flu, don't bother getting TamiFlu and thinking it will "prevent" swine flu, it won't. It will make you sick, only take it if you do genuinly have the symptoms it mentions on the site. For one, your taking away pills from someone who needs them.
Finally, don't buy the pills!!!!!!!!!!! The UK has plenty to go around!!!
If you think you have Swine Flu:
Don't go to the Doctors, go to NHSDirect.gov where you will have the same questionnaire I have done, if you do need the TamiFlu, they will give you an individual code to hand into the place you pick it up. You need to send someone else to get the pills for you, who must take ID for themselves AND you along with the code to collect the pills, which you will take as soon as you get them. They are free, even to people who pay for perscriptions! You do not get a perscription, but you are given the pills in the office. So don't get soemone to get them illegally and then sell them to you at a lower price! They are FREE TO ALL!
The most important thing to remember is NOT TO GO TO THE DOCTORS, everything you need is online or at the end of a telephone :)
So what does 'they also had underlying health conditions' actually mean? Most of the deaths in Swine Flue cases around the world and in the U.K have taken people that already have chronic health problems or suffer poor living conditions, so not a great surprise when our first victim came from Glasgow, Britain's unhealthiest city, and the worst in Europe for heart disease and other chronic conditions. Half of the city is on some sort of benefit and half of those of working age on Incapacity. Life expectancy in some areas of Glasgow metropolitan is just 54, nine years less than India!
The Deaths in Mexico were purely about volume, Mexico City the most populated city on Earth and so the disease spreading quickly before anyone knew how roar and new the bug was. Their health system is poor and most people died of untreated pneumonia caused by the flu, the lungs filling up with fluid and sticking together, the flu taking the weak. In the U.K. the serious cases are treated quickly and so there are minimal deaths.
The moment the government didn't cancel Glastonbury when a family were dragged of site with the bug during the festival suggest that's the end of the containment policy and they can't stop the spread in the heat as we all come out to play. And let's face it, the likelihood of everyone with a cold being tested (or wanting to be) for Swine Flu is impossible so clearly more than the official figure of 7,000 people have it or have had it. There's even talk of Swine Flu parties where parents WANT to infect little Johnny in the summer so to avoid the stronger version of the virus in the winter so to build immunity. The WHO say that's nuts as it would increase the chances of deadly mutation. That sort of thing has always gone on with chicken pox's and will never change though. But with the news that its out of control and we will all get it means lots more deaths through the autumn.
When it first broke in Mexico it was right to make people apprehensive and aware around the world of the possible threat and put quarantines into effect. Only around 400 heterosexual males a year now get Aids in the U.K. because we were scared of the warning campaigns in the 1980s and heeded the message not to have unprotected sex. Even today 90% of all new cases in the U.K. are in black Africans and gay men and not in the general British population. We learnt our lessons early and saved thousands of lives, something they didn't learn in Africa and some still refuse to today and so your tax dollars still spent on treating them here .The disease is imported from places like Zimbabwe where 70% of all new cases come from here and is not indiscriminate like Swine Flu is. It's not your fault if you get flu. If you're a gay man then it could well be your fault if you get AIDs.
There has been an acceleration of cases in the summer and so the first real identification of the type of people or communities that may catch the serious Swine Flu first. The disease is spreading quickly in the poorest inner cities, especially in Asian areas like Birmingham, Luton and Southeast London, resulting in the death of a young Asian girl in Birmingham. She had a serious genetic disease that is mostly found in these communities relating to inter-family marriage and the Swine Flu weakened her just too much. When flu takes out the weaker young it becomes relevant and worrying.
There are always deaths from flu in the U.K. and this one has a very low fatality rate so far but it seems people with asthma are more at risk of complications because Swine Flue attacks the respiratory system, causing more serious Asthma attacks - this is the season of serious asthma attacks after all. Although Asians have less cases of asthma on percentage than white people they have far more serious attacks that need hospital admissions. There's also a disproportionate amount of diabetics in the Asian community and so that could be another contributing factor to deaths around the world from swine flu that have also hit Asian countries hard, that particular disease five times more prevalent in the Asian community here due to diet and their jobs tending to be more static, like cab drivers and newsagents, and so little exercise taken. Where as normal flu kills the elderly and infirm this one takes out people of all ages through pneumonia and those weaker respiratory systems. There's a reason why there's more flues called Asian Flu than English flu guys! If you have asthma you are at greater risk from complications and for gods sake don't take little Johnny to a Swine Flue party if he does indeed have asthma!
The original fear was this strain would have more avian than animal flu elements to it and so attack the upper chest and kill millions. SARS had a ten percent kill ratio but could only be caught directly from chickens and so not passed from person to person. If SARS becomes airborne sooner rather than later then we are talking millions and millions dead. If it later then humans may have built up some resistance by then. This Swine Flu is a normal flu and the animal to human transference is not a fatal mix yet. If it mutates again it could well be. It was a very scary moment in March in Mexico for the world and it wasn't just hype. I suppose all flues probably mutate at some point and in some way from animals and if that was such a deadly threat to humans then we would never have got a hold on earth and been extinct before we even learned to walk. Most of you have seen War of the Worlds and the opening narration explains why we are still here, all living organisms in a constant fight to hold their place in the pecking order. The body builds up a resistance and the sacrifice is made through the ones that don't beat the strain and the sad death of the 6-year-old helps us to fight the disease. It's called evolution and it really is rather brutal and chaotic. The more people on the planet the more interaction with animals and the more chance for the jump to be made, as was the case in Mexico.
Don t believe the hype there's a Tamiflu pill for everyone though and its some how miracle cure. That's just not the case and if this thing does mutate it probably wont be enough to save everyone. As I say its pneumonia that will get you from flu and that means thousands of temporary hospital wards will be needed to treat everyone, which only spreads it more. The emergency and the more important services will already have been given Tamiflu ready for the winter or soon will be and if you haven't received any then your not important enough are you. It looks like pretty much everyone will have the flu go through their system and that will help us to build a defence against this version of N1H1, although not everyone will get the flu and those that do will get mostly mild cold like symptoms. Like hay fever sufferers get.
The conspiracy theory doing the rounds is that on the week Barak Obama announced his Mexico-USA border control policy the Swine-Flu hit. We know the strain takes down people in poverty first and they say maybe it was a field test by the CIA to target a certain ethnic gene? I'm not of that persuasion though and believe there are just too many people on the planet and that's at the heart of all our problems and the only way to slow global warming and the spread of resistance disease is to stop having babies. Over-population, not the secret intelligence services, is wrecking this stunning planet. Unless, of course, they wanted to bring down the number of Mexicans crossing illegally...
I write this knowing it will be an inferior review to the one other review but I think it is quite interesting that swine flu has now been relegated to a 'review' at all. It sort of puts the whole thing into perspective.
At first there was mild panic in the UK. I work in a school and some of the kids used "You've got swine flu" to ostracise others. I felt that mild panic at first - which is a testament to how the population can be easily manipulated by the media. We all know about the bubonic plague and smallpox (and AIDs too) and the pumped-up reminder that we are not invincible can niggle that raw nerve.
It was not very long though until the general population ceased to consider it a threat. I think the media must have realised that they were flogging a dead horse as few people succombed to the virus and even less to the hype.
The pharmaceutical companies certainly must have made a killing with the production of Tamiflu and the race to develop a swine flu vaccine. The government paying them out of the public purse. Somewhere there is a little mountain of Tamiflu that may never get used and will be thrown away into a landfill when it comes close to its expiry date.
Just yesterday, I saw a schoolboy whose school had been closed due to a number of cases, report that he had been given no anti viral protection. I thought it was rather fitting after all the hype.
Finally, one more comment on the practice of intensively rearing animals for food - an activity that is supposed to have been the origin of this virus. Taking an industrial approach to living beings is always likely to mean trouble.
As many of you know, I live in Mexico City, known for its smog, its teeming population and, most recently, its swine flu. Swine Flu in Mexico was an interesting experience, but not a scary one. I received a lot of concerned emails from Dooyooers - so thanks for all your messages, and sorry if you didn't get a long reply. With the best part of the pandemic panic now over, I thought it would be fun to tell you about what life was like on the ground during the couple of weeks when it took over the city.
Friday 24th April
On my way home from class there seems to be an insane /abnormal number of people wearing surgical masks, but then you see some people wearing them every day, just not in this quantity. I later find out why (thanks, Timesonline, for giving me loads of info on the Budget, but nothing on Swine Flu). At my gym they are giving the masks out free, but they don't really go well with exercise. I am the only person on the cardio floor not wearing one. I also discover how blinkin' hard it is to understand Spanish muffled through these, as I talk to the guy in charge of checking we're only on any machine for 20 minutes as I proceed to spend 45 mins on the elliptical. He can't complain - the place is deserted. Afterwards, as I hit the Step class, I am vindicated. The instructor, it turns out, is a doctor. He gathers us for a quick meeting before we start, to explain the situation and why those little cloth masks are useless. He won't be wearing one for that reason, but we can if we want. No one does, unlike in the previous class. It's Dance Arabe, and today I discovered something I probably would have known any way had I thought about it: blue cloth masks don't really go with gold coin belts, swishy skirts, and billowing material when worn by anyone, but least of all when worn by male instructors.
Saturday 25th April
The gym is still open, and still giving out masks no one is then wearing. It's quieter than usual, but not dead by any means. The international press reports of Mexico City becoming a ghost town are wildly exaggerated.
There are some brilliant conspiracy theories doing the rounds at the moment, my favourite two being:
- The US invented this virus because they don't like Mexicans. Obama was here, but left a week ago - coincidence? What's more, Mr President greeted someone at a dinner function, and that person died from 'flu like symptoms' a few days later...
- The government (probably Mexican) invented the virus and/or hyped it up to take people's minds off the economy.
I go to Soriana (a local supermarket) where people are panic buying canned goods. At Laura's we put on the gym masks (NB: we did NOT buy these) and take photos for Facebook which are either hilarious or in questionable taste, depending on how you look at it.
Sunday 26th April
Emma, one of the school coordinators, has sent out an email. The school shut yesterday, so we were all hopeful that we might get some time off (all normal schools are shut for a week here now). However, the email is to tell us to buy those masks for use on the public transport to and from our classes. Good to know they care.
Today at the gym they are spraying out hands with disinfectant as well as handing out masks. We have progressed from pale blue and useless to a darker blue and still useless.
I hear from Kelli that our used-car-salesman sort of company director has decreed that we are a business not a school and therefore we will not be shutting. He is saying this from Vancouver, where he is va-ca-ing, and therefore out of hitting distance.
I send my 8am Santa Fe student a text to see if he'll be in the office tomorrow as usual, and he replies, "Yes...why?". Um, maybe because the BBC is reporting a Citibank HQ on Reforma shut on Friday, so we were hopeful the business district one would follow suit?
Monday 27th April
Important message from the British Embassy
To: Zoe Page
The Foreign and Commonwealth travel advice for Mexico has recently been updated in light of the outbreak of a new form of influenza affecting several states. The FCO travel advice will be updated regularly as the situation develops. We advise visitors and residents in Mexico to monitor the Travel Advice regularly and to follow the advice of the local authorities.
If you have not already done so, please register with the Embassy via Locate as soon as possible:
British Embassy Mexico City
The 'helpful' advice you get for being a good Brit abroad and registering with them, as I did when I arrived.
This morning I am on the Metro and pesero to Santa Fe as usual, and we have our class. My student thinks there is little cause for concern. At the Metro they are handing out leaflets on what flu is, how to treat it etc. Mexico is a little different from the rest of the world, so their advice focuses on the following:
- Don't kiss people hello or goodbye
- Don't self-treat with antibiotics (which you can buy here over the counter, with no good reason)
- Don't smoke
At the gym, the evil receptionist we dislike tells us to wear masks, but on the Cardio mezzanine she can't see us, so we leave them around our necks. They itch at the best of times, but breathing sweaty breath into them is impossible. As we do sit ups, Laura asks if the floor is shaking. I think it's just the music vibrating, but it turns out, no, we are having an earthquake. Mexico city's not had this much non-drug-related news in forever.
The best news (for us...silver lining and all that) comes in the afternoon. One by one, we get told of cancelled courses, until the school gives in and cancels all classes until next Wed, 6th May. Most of our students are working from home anyway. So we have over a week off and, for those of us on contract, it's paid. So, yay! Not sure what we can do though since the city is closing down. People are panic buying food still, but I have enough in, so I contemplate panic buying imported magazines and chocolate instead, lest my usual suppliers shut down and I am cut off.
I go back to the gym after a few games of Chess on Laura's roof, but the rules have changed (the gym rules, not the Chess ones). All classes are cancelled until May 6th, so there goes my dream of finally being able to go to the mid-week ones I can never make it to. The gym is still open (for now) but cubre bocas / tapa bocas (those itchy and useless facemasks) have become compulsory, so I wear mine until it's soaked and, I'm sure, going to give me spots, and then I come home.
This morning I texted my landlady to say the internet was down and my shower is lacking water. She replied that she was at the hospital where her mother is an inpatient with....flu. This is the sweet, elderly woman who lives with Lupita, in the flat downstairs. It has reached our building...
Tuesday 28th April
Today I lazily go to the gym before breakfast but still later than normal, but it's a good thing I do since while I'm there they close, by decree of the government, so as soon as we all finish they lock up until a week tomorrow. Back home I consider cleaning the apartment I'm so stir crazy - it's been barely a day, but the promise of a week like this is already scary. I spend the afternoon on the balcony in the sunshine (30 C weather, and at least the rain has gone for another month or so).
Online I learn the government has also shut down all restaurants in the city, allowing take-out only. I assume ice cream places will still be open. I could be wrong.
Today is 28th of the month, and every month on 28th people randomly carry round Jesus statues as they go about their business. There is a great picture on the very bad local English newspaper's website here:
Apparently today is no exception.
This afternoon I meet Laura for ice cream / fruit and a wander that turns into a 2 ½ hour walk. We find ourselves at Parque Delta, our local mall, where the food court is closed but the shops are open. In Soriana random shelves are now completely empty, while others remain untouched. It seems when people here panic buy, they panic buy tins of refried beans more than anything else.
Wednesday 29th April
Our coordinator has requested we hand in our end of month paperwork as normal so I head to the school only to find it all locked up. Pat and Laura are waiting outside talking to Victor. I tell them the news I've picked up - that the DoH has ruled facemasks are useless, and that the number of Swine Flu deaths dropped over night - it's not due to resurrections, mind, but rather they've decided that the 27 'confirmed' deaths are really only 7 'confirmed' and 20 'suspected' as being due to the virus. Eventually Ami arrives and opens up, but technically the school is now shut for a week and we shouldn't be in the building.
Laura and I sit on my balcony and read trashy magazines. I am doing a class on an article from Closer, about a 46 Stone woman. It sort of makes us feel better about missing the gym.
I go to PWC to teach my private student, and as usual I walk the 40 mins there, and sit in the sun for 15 mins on arrival eating my lunch. When I arrive, everyone is wearing masks (JP told me to bring my 'mask face' to class with me, despite REPEATED classes on the order of compound nouns). I also have to have my temperature taken by the security guards who take it once and frown, and then take it again. I do explain I've just walked from Condesa, but they look at me like that's impossible. Eventually, I pass the test. As I wait for JP, I talk to one of them and tell him the things 'no sirven para nada'. He says he would like it better too if I didn't wear one, so he could see my pretty smile (argh) but rules are rules. Except...they're not. As soon as we round the corner towards the lifts, the masks come off. No one on the 4th floor is wearing one as they 'can't work while they have them on'. Try working OUT in one, I want to say. But hey. We have a good, fun class and then I walk home in the sun, stopping at a few shops all of which are still open.
Thursday 30th April
I can't sleep most of the night as I keep listening for Metrobusses, a sign the city's public transport is still running. I wake up to the radio telling me the government are issuing a "stay at home with your family" recommendation for the Puente (long weekend) which starts tomorrow. This seems odd, since if it were so important people stayed at home, surely they'd start it from today? Government offices are finally going to close, and other businesses are being encouraged to shut down too.
I, however, am off, out of town to take advantage of our days off. That's why I need public transport - so I can get to what I'm sure will be an interesting airport, to jump on a plane to Oaxaca for a few nights. May as well make the most of it.
At the airport there are no crowds of people, no lines at check in. It's ace. Until...my flight gets cancelled because of low numbers, so we have to wait 2 hours for the next one. About half the people on board are wearing masks, though obviously they have to take them off to drink their free drinks, and eat their free lime-flavoured peanuts (the flight's only an hour).
Friday 1st May
Today is labour day here, so everything is shut. I go on a tour to Oaxaca state and again, fewer than half the people we meet are donning masks. They are still available in pharmacies here, and I contemplate buying a bunch to resell in the city (profiting from pandemic paranoia and all that) but I think I've missed the boat.
Mexican governmental logic is very strange. They have closed all the open air sites, like Monte Alban here, and Teotihuacan in Mexico City, but...the shopping malls are still open. It's really strange.
Sunday 3rd May
I leave Oaxaca and have to go through a medical check at the airport. Or, as the sign so helpfully says in English, "By federal disposition, every person that undertake (sic) an airship (!) should pass for sanitary review". This means I have to fill in a form, saying 'no' to everything (much like the customs forms when you leave the EU) and have my temperature taken. Again.
Monday 4th May
Back in town, the city is as dead as before, and I am unmotivated. Everything is shut - cinemas, restaurants, museums, the gym. It's all very well having time off work, but with nothing to do, we're starting to go a little crazy. However, the silver lining is that some places that don't fall in those categories are still open for business - think supermarkets, convenience stores and ice cream parlours - so it could be worse. The government shut down continues until Wednesday, at which point they think they will have been able to get rid of the flu, or at least control its spread.
Tuesday 5th May
I'm not supposed to be, but today I am teaching since Emma told me to. There are no special restrictions at this company, but there are massive bottles of disinfectant on every floor. It smells like neat alcohol (probably because it is) and is drying. My student shows me the hand cream someone gave him. Bless.
Before I left the UK I worked in the NHS and had a lot of dealings with our public health department. I receive an email from them today, checking up on how things are here. I'm due back to the UK and the world of healthcare in a few months, so assuming I survive the outbreak, I wonder whether anyone would like to employ me as a pandemic flu expert / survivor? Or maybe I should stay in this part of the world - with a masters in Healthcare Management, plus a nifty certificate in Medical Terminology, I must be practically a doctor in some Central American countries?
Laura comes over and we walk down Insurgentes to get take out from 100% Natural but the nasty people are not even doing food 'para llevar' (take away service, which legally they are still permitted to do). Then we hike past the gym which has a sign up saying that it will re-open when the colour level hits yellow. This confuses us since no one is talking about colour levels here. We wonder if they made it up.
Wednesday 6th May
Technically we are back at work today but all my classes are cancelled, so I only have my private, albeit at 7.30am. At PWC they are still taking temperatures. As I leave at 9am there is a massive queue as everyone arriving for work needs to be checked. I wonder if they've found anyone with a fever yet. I also wonder how sensible it is for 100 odd people to jam in next to each other as they wait.
On the way to PWC, I walk past the gym. The lights are on so my heart lifts but inside the mean receptionist we dislike tells me they are shut. I ask until when, and she says until the level of alert is yellow, so no help there (last night, anxious as we were to know, L & I googled 'Influenca Porcina Amarillo' but to no avail).
I discover that the British Council (the 'swish' school in town) have sent all their ex-pat teachers home. In addition to their flights and their partners' flights, they get 7 days in a hotel in London, £20 per day spending money, plus their usual salary. And so far they have no idea when they will be back. I clearly work for the wrong school.
Today the new 'rule' is that restaurants can re-open but only to 50% capacity. This is interesting, potentially pointless, and being interpreted differently in different places. Some restaurants have removed half of their tables. Others have left them all there but stuck signs on half saying 'out of use'. The weirdest though is some small cafes who have stuck similar signs on every second chair, essentially making a table for 4 now a table for 2. It begs the question what would happen if you went in a big group. Would they split you up, like a group of rowdy school children?
Thursday 7th May
The radio tells me we are now at level yellow. A text from Kelli tells me Kevin concurs, so I hit the gym and it is indeed open. It's also crowded - looks like we weren't the only ones desperate for a workout. Classes are not restarting until Saturday but still. We have to fill in a fitness-to-exercise form, and also have our temps taken. They announce the result - 35.5 C - as if we're supposed to care. All I care about is a workout and a hot shower.
I teach at UBS and discover they have a new rule - business trips from New York to Mexico have been suspended, and anyone who travels to our country is then to stay away from the office for 5 working days. Because clearly viruses care about things like working days. Maybe they work less at weekends?
At school, where I teach an evening class, I cam given latex gloves and a new mask. Clearly I will not wear either, but I play along. We also have massive bottles of hand disinfectant to cart around for our students. I much prefer the mini one I nabbed of a drug rep before I left the NHS a year ago, for my new exciting life in this swine flu infested country.
Friday 8th May
At PWC they have a new sign which makes me laugh: while people are lining up to have their temperatures taken as they arrive to the office, they now have to stand 1m back from the person in front of them... Didn't I say as much? My temperature is taken for the second time today and I am allowed to pass.
Back to the gym, once again my forehead is measured. I swear no one has been this interested in my temp since I was a baby. Maybe not even then.
Afterwards, we meet to go to the newly reopened Biscuits Biscuits, inspired by the letter of thanks I just got from their HQ in response to a Dooyoo review I wrote about the place. It's so nice the city is working again as it should be.
Monday 11th May
Schools are back, and so the front page of today's paper comes with handy hints on how to keep the little ones safe, though the key one seems to be, "Send them to school with short, clean nails" which you'd think was just what nice families did anyway.
Friday 15th May
We understand from London that our current travel advice for Mexico will be relaxed later today. The reference to advice against all non-essential travel will be removed.
Very many thanks for your cooperation throughout this difficult time. We hope you remain safe and well.
As ever, we would ask you to encourage British family, friends and colleagues in Mexico to register with us via Locate:
British Embassy Mexico City
So, it's pretty much over. The city is getting back to normal, and it's almost as though nothing ever happened here.
One of the most interesting things was that there were no sick people to be seen - it didn't feel like we were in the middle of a deadly pandemic because you weren't passing people coughing and sneezing on the street. There are many theories about why only people in Mexico died (with the exception of a Mexican child in the US, and another US citizen who had other health problems). I think it has to do with the fact that here you pay to go to the doctor, so many people don't go or can't afford it (though the cheapest ones cost just £1 per consultation, 20 pesos is quite a lot here). People also self-medicate, think they're getting better, and go to work because they can't afford not to, thus helping the virus to spread. Finally, the health problems of the population (a huge number are diabetic) and the general (poor) nutrition levels may have helped turn an essentially harmless virus into a problem for small pockets of the population. From my perspective, I know no one who got sick, nor anyone who knew anyone who did (it turns out landlady's mother died of old lady flu, not piggy flu). This isn't surprising: Mexico city is massive and densely populated, and the total number of people reported to have died is fewer than live in my apartment building.
In my opinion, the whole thing got whooped out of proportion. It's just a flu...and normal, healthy people don't die of flu in developed countries. As for Mexico, more people die every winter from non-specific flus than died from H1N1, ditto people who die in car crashes or from getting caught up in the drug wars. Of all the things that could befall me in my life in Mexico, Swine Flu is probably the least likely.