Q&A Swine Flu (55 Q&A)


Here’s Q&A I found on the internet about swine flu everything you want to know about it is written here. Enjoy!

1-What is swine flu?

Swine influenza is a disease in pigs. The virus currently transmitting among people is now generally referred to as swine flu, although the origin of the disease is still under investigation. There is no evidence of this strain of the disease circulating in pigs in the UK…….

There are regular outbreaks of swine influenza in pigs worldwide. It does not normally infect humans, although this occasionally does occur – usually in people who have had close contact with pigs.

Swine influenza viruses are usually of the H1N1 subtype. The swine flu that has spread to humans is a version of this virus.

2-Is the new swine flu virus contagious?

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) says the new swine flu virus is highly contagious and is spreading from person to person.

Swine flu spreads in the same way as ordinary colds and flu. The virus is spread through the droplets that come out of the nose or mouth when someone coughs or sneezes.

If someone coughs or sneezes and they do not cover it, those droplets can spread about one meter (3ft). If you are very close to the person you might breathe them in.

Or, if someone coughs or sneezes into their hand, those droplets and the virus within them are easily transferred to surfaces that the person touches, such as door handles and hand rails. If you touch these surfaces and touch your face, the virus can enter your system, and you can become infected.

3-How long does the virus live on surfaces?

The flu virus can live on a hard surface for up to 24 hours, and a soft surface for around 20 minutes.

4-How quickly might swine flu spread?

After infection, it takes less than two days for symptoms to start, at which point people are most infectious.

Evidence from previous outbreaks suggests that one person will infect about two others, and that influenza spreads particularly rapidly in closed communities such as schools or residential homes.

If swine flu is going to spread worldwide, experts predict that local outbreaks will be seen within the next two to three weeks.

5-How dangerous is it?

It is difficult to judge this at the moment. While there have been deaths in Mexico, and the death of a 23-month-old child in Texas, symptoms exhibited by people in other countries have been relatively mild and only one person has died of the virus outside of Mexico.

Also, it appears that early doses of antiviral medicines such as Tamiflu are effective in helping people to recover. In the UK we have enough antivirals to treat half the population if they were to become ill.

6-What are the symptoms of swine flu?

The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of human seasonal flu and include fever, fatigue, lack of appetite, coughing and sore throat . Some people with swine flu have also reported vomiting, diarrhoea and aches and pains in their limbs.

7-How long are symptoms expected to last?

As with any sort of influenza, the severity and duration of symptoms will vary depending on treatment and individual circumstances. Cases reported in the UK to date have been relatively mild, with those affected starting to recover within a week.

8-How long does it normally take to recover?

As with any sort of influenza, the time taken to recover will vary depending on treatment and individual circumstances. Cases reported in the UK to date have been relatively mild, with those affected starting to recover within a week.

9-I was on a flight where someone may have had swine flu – am I at risk?

Close contact with an infected person increases the risk of catching swine flu. Close contact is defined as being exposed to a probable or confirmed case within the previous seven days for longer than an hour, and within a distance of one meter or less.

10-How does swine flu cause death?

Like any other type of flu, people can die from swine flu if they develop complications, like pneumonia.

11-Why is the death rate higher in Mexico than other countries?

This is not yet understood and there could be a variety of explanations. It may be that people affected in Mexico may have sought treatment at a much later stage than those in other countries.

General living and nutritional standards may also play a role. Other experts have suggested that there may even be a second separate virus circulating in Mexico that is having an impact, but this is not known.

12-What can I do?

You can reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of catching or spreading swine flu by:

* Always covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.

* Disposing of dirty tissues promptly and carefully.

* Maintaining good basic hygiene, for example washing hands frequently with soap and water to reduce the spread of the virus from your hands to face, or to other people.

* Cleaning hard surfaces, such as door handles, frequently using a normal cleaning product.

You can also prepare now and in the build-up to a pandemic by:

* Confirming a network of ‘flu friends’ – friends and relatives – who could help you if you fall ill. They could collect medicines and other supplies for you so you do not have to leave home and possibly spread the virus.

* Knowing your NHS number and those of other family members and keeping them in a safe place. You will be able to find your NHS Number on your medical card or other items such as prescribed medication, GP letter or hospital appointment card/letter.

* Having a stock of food and other supplies available at home that will last for two weeks, in case you and your family are ill.


13-Who should be wearing a facemask?

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) recommends that healthcare workers should wear a facemask if they come into close contact with a person with symptoms (within one meter) to reduce their risk of catching the virus from patients.

However, the HPA does not recommend that healthy people wear facemasks to go about their everyday business.

14-Why shouldn’t the general public wear facemasks?

Because there’s no conclusive evidence that facemasks will protect healthy people in their day-to-day lives.

The virus is spread by picking up the virus from touching infected surfaces, or by someone coughing or sneezing at very close range – so unless you are standing close to someone with the virus, wearing a facemask will not make a difference.

There are concerns about the risks posed by not using facemasks correctly.

Facemasks must be changed regularly as they are less effective when dampened by a person’s breath. People may infect themselves if they touch the outer surface of their mask, or may infect others by not disposing of old masks safely.

Finally, wearing a facemask may encourage complacency. People need to focus on good hand hygiene, staying at home if they are feeling unwell, and covering their mouth when they cough or sneeze.

15-So why have other countries gone down this route?

This is an issue which each government has considered separately. France is encouraging the general public to buy their own masks for use as a precaution, but it is not stockpiling masks centrally from government funds and neither is the US.

In other countries there is an existing culture of wearing facemasks for either the prevention of spreading illness or preventing the risks of pollution; this is not the case in the UK.

16-What should I do if I think I’m infected?

If you or someone you have been in contact with have recently returned from Mexico or another affected country and you have flu-like symptoms, stay at home and call your GP or local emergency center. Do not go into your GP surgery, or to a hospital, as you may spread the disease to others. Ask your flu friend to go out for you.

17-If I have been in close contact with an infected person, do I need treatment?

Individuals who have been in close contact with someone who is confirmed to have swine flu are being offered antiviral medicines as a precautionary measure. Close contact is defined as being exposed to a probable or confirmed case within the previous seven days for longer than an hour, and within a distance of one meter. You do not need to worry unless you have been in close contact with someone who has been specifically confirmed to have swine flu.

18-Is swine flu treatable?

Testing has shown that the swine flu can be treated with the antiviral medicines oseltamavir (brand name Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza).

The UK already has a stockpile of antivirals sufficient to treat up to half the population, which is a reasonable worst-case scenario. However, the drugs must be administered at an early stage to be effective.

19-What do antivirals do?

Antivirals are not a cure, but they help you to recover by:

* relieving some of the symptoms,

* reducing the length of time you are ill by around one day, and

* reducing the potential for serious complications, such as pneumonia.

20-How large is the UK’s stockpile of antivirals?

The government has 23 million treatments of Tamiflu and 10.5 million treatments of Relenza.

21-Is one of the antivirals more appropriate for pregnant women and people with certain kidney conditions?

Relenza is an inhaled drug that will be used for pregnant women and people with certain kidney conditions who are unable to take Tamiflu. See more on pregnancy below.

22-How will I gain access to antivirals? (UK)

Arrangements are being put into place with local healthcare services for antivirals to be made available to those who need them.

People with symptoms and others at risk will be assessed by their GP. If antivirals are required, the GP will contact the local health protection unit, which is coordinating the distribution of antivirals.

If you have flu-like symptoms and are concerned, stay at home. You can check your symptoms on the Flu symptom checker (links to external site) or call the swine flu information line on 0800 1 513 513. If you have taken these steps and are still concerned, call your GP or NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. Do not travel out to your GP or hospital.


23-Is there a vaccine?

No. Influenza viruses change very quickly. For a vaccine to provide adequate protection it needs to be adapted to the particular strain in circulation.

Scientists are already working to develop a new vaccine for swine flu, but it could take up to six months to develop and manufacture enough supplies to meet what could be huge demand.It may take up to 12 months to have sufficient stockpiles to immunise 100% of the population.

24-Why does it take up to six months to produce a swine flu vaccine?

The flu vaccine production process is long and complicated. Traditional flu vaccine production relies on technology based on chicken eggs. This production technology is labor-intensive. To counter this, the government’s plans include two manufacturers, only one egg-based, thus maximizing chances of early development.

The flu vaccine production process is further complicated by the fact that flu virus strains continually evolve. Therefore, once a pandemic strain is identified and made available by the World Health Organization, it will take four to six months before a specific vaccine is available and evaluated for safety. However, it will be considerably longer before this vaccine can be manufactured in sufficient quantities for the entire population, given that international demand will be high.

25-Does the current seasonal flu vaccine work?

The current seasonal flu vaccine is designed to protect against H1N1, but it is unclear as yet whether this will offer any protection against the current strain of swine flu.

26-How many stocks are available of seasonal vaccine?

Flu vaccine is produced each year for the seasonal flu. Discussions are ongoing with manufacturers about how much may still be available.

27-What is a ‘pre-pandemic’ vaccine?

This is a specific vaccine against the virus most likely to cause a pandemic: the government has a stock of A/H5N1 vaccine (‘bird flu’ comprises strains of A/H5N1).

28-Will the current H5N1 pre-pandemic vaccine be effective?

The current government stockpile of H5N1 pre-pandemic vaccine, which was intended for healthcare workers, is unlikely to be effective against swine flu (A/H1N1).

29-What extra antibiotics have been purchased?

Antibiotics will play an important part in the response to a pandemic. The government has worked with clinicians to develop clinical management guidelines that identify the types of antibiotics needed to treat the complications arising for pandemic flu.

Work to advance further purchases has been going on as part of the government’s preparations, and this is now currently being accelerated.

30-Why do you need antibiotics in a pandemic?

While antivirals may reduce the number of complications, there are still likely to be significant numbers of complications occurring in a pandemic. Some of the most common include bacterial infections in the respiratory tract and lungs. Antibiotics are needed to treat such complications.

Antibiotics will be used to treat people in the community if they develop complications. In hospitals, antibiotics will be used to treat the sickest patients and may reduce the length of hospitalisation.

31-Does swine flu pose special risks in pregnant women?

During pregnancy, you may have an increased risk of complications from any type of flu, especially in the second and third trimester.

32-Can I take antiviral drugs if I am pregnant?

Yes, on the advice of a doctor. The Department of Health has purchased Relenza, an inhaled antiviral drug that treats flu without reaching the developing fetus.

An expert group reviewed the risk of antiviral treatment in pregnancy, which is extremely small – much smaller than the risk posed by swine flu.

33-Will pregnant women get preference for a swine flu vaccine?

It will be months before a swine flu vaccine becomes available. When it is available, there will be guidelines on which groups of people are a greater priority for vaccination. See vaccine information above.

34-Can children take antivirals?

Yes, on the advice of a doctor. Tamiflu is safe for infants aged one and older, at a reduced dose. Relenza (an inhaler) can be used by children aged five and older under the supervision of an adult.

35-Can babies under the age of one take antivirals?

Tamiflu and Relenza are not licensed for use in babies under the age of one. However, Tamiflu may be used under the supervision of a doctor if your baby is ill.

36-I’m on immunosuppressants. Am I more at risk from swine flu?

Yes. If you take immunosuppressants you have a greater risk of becoming infected with any virus, including swine flu, and will be less able to fight it off once you have it.

37-Will my dose of immunosuppressants be altered in the event of an outbreak?

Your doctor may advise that your dose of immunosuppressants needs to change. The appropriate dose will vary from patient to patient.

38-Can I take antivirals if I’m on immunosuppressants?

Yes, it is safe for you to take Tamiflu or Relenza.

39-Am I more at risk of catching swine flu if I have HIV?

Probably not. Although HIV infects CD4 cells and reduces their number and function, there are other parts of the immune system that are able to fight flu.

40-Am I more likely to suffer complications if I have HIV and catch swine flu?

If you have a low CD4 count (under 200), you may be more likely to suffer complications like pneumonia from any type of flu, including swine flu.

41-Can I take antivirals if I have mild to moderate kidney disease?

Yes. If you have stage 1 to 3 kidney disease, or your glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is above 30, you will be treated as any other person would be. This means you can take Relenza or Tamiflu, if necessary.

42-Can I take antivirals if I have severe kidney disease?

Yes. If you have stage 4 or 5 kidney disease, or your glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is below 30, you will probably be under the care of a kidney specialist. Relenza (an inhaler) is safe to take. If you find this tricky to use, your doctor may give you a reduced dose of Tamiflu tablets instead.

43-Will people with long-term conditions get preference for a swine flu vaccine?

It will be months before a swine flu vaccine becomes available. When it is available, there will be guidelines on which groups of people are a greater priority for vaccination. See vaccine information above.

44-Are people with asthma or COPD more at risk from swine flu?

You are no more likely to catch swine flu than anyone else. However, if you do catch a respiratory infection, including swine flu, it will add to the breathing difficulties you may have.

45-What advice is there for people with asthma or COPD?

Your condition places you at greater risk if you catch the disease. It is therefore all the more important that you follow good hygiene practices (see ‘What can I do’) and react quickly if you develop flu-like symptoms (see ‘What should I do if I think I’m infected’).

46-Can I take antivirals if I have asthma or COPD?

Yes – Tamiflu is safe to take. However, Relenza (an inhaler) is usually not given to people with asthma as on rare occasions it can cause breathing complications.

47-I have diabetes. Am I at more at risk from swine flu?

You are no more likely to catch swine flu than anyone else. However, if you do catch it, your blood glucose may increase and your diabetes treatment may need to be adjusted accordingly.

48-What should I do if my blood glucose increases?

If you find your blood glucose has increased, or you develop thirst and are urinating more, call your GP. If you are on insulin and testing your own blood glucose, you may be advised to do this more often so you can adjust your dose according to the results. If you start to vomit or become increasingly unwell, call your GP as soon as possible.

49-Is there any advice for people with liver disease?

If you have liver disease you are no more likely to catch swine flu than anyone else. If you do catch it, antivirals are safe to take – there is no interaction between these and antivirals you may already be taking to treat hepatitis.

50-Can I take antivirals if I am on epilepsy treatment?

Yes. It is thought that antiviral treatments will not affect medicines taken to control epilepsy.

51-Are older people more likely to catch swine flu?

It is not yet known. Almost all of those infected with swine flu in Europe are people under 50 who have recently returned from travel in Mexico. This picture could change.

52-Are older people more at risk of complications if they do catch it?

Yes. Older and frail people are more likely to develop complications from any type of flu, and are generally less able to fight it off.

53-Won’t hospital capacity be inadequate?

Most flu sufferers can be cared for appropriately at home. It is not feasible to expand or staff additional hospital capacity to the extent necessary to meet the level of demand that a pandemic might generate.

54-How likely are school closures?

Should a severe pandemic occur, some closures are likely. The extent of such closures and their duration would depend on the level of risk to children, which is not yet known.

55-Is it safe to eat pig meat?

Yes. The WHO says there is no evidence that swine flu can be transmitted through eating meat from infected animals. However, it is essential to cook meat properly. A temperature of 70°C (158°F) would be sure to kill the virus. Pig meat includes pork, bacon, ham and pork products.


One Response to “Q&A Swine Flu (55 Q&A)”

  1. Apparently one of the quirks of the Swine Flu (and Bird Flu) is that it is actually worse for people with healthy immune systems. I know that doesn’t make sense by normal standards, but the immune reaction apparently causes what is known as a “cytokine storm” in the lung, creating fluid and drowning the victim.

    Whereas ordinary flu usually kills about 1/2 to 1% of its victims, the Swine Flu is apparently killing about 7%. The Bird Flu is even more deadly than the Swine Flu but does not spread very easily which is why it did not have too much impact.

    Advanced colloidal silver has been shown to neutralize the N1H1 virus (Swine Flu) within a couple of hours in test tube studies but has not been tried in animal model studies yet.

    The Bird Flu (H5N1) killed 70% of animals in a study, (yes . . . . 70%). However, when trialed with the advanced silver solution, the animal survival rate went from 30% to 60%.

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