Swine Flu Public Briefing30th July 2009Brian Simmonds Head of Community Safety and Licensing
What is Swine Flu? • New strain of influenza found in over 100 countries • Despite its name it can’t be caught from pigs or pork • It is very similar to seasonal influenza • Symptoms are generally mild - particularly in the UK • Most recover in a week, even without treatment • Some people do not realise they have it • But a small number (mostly with underlying health conditions) will develop much more serious issues
Common symptoms • Fever • Sore throat • Diarrhoea • Headache • Feeling generally unwell • Dry cough
How is it spread ? • Infected droplets entering the mucus membranes (mouth and eyes) • These can be scattered by coughing or sneezing. Airborne germs die very quickly within a matter of moments. Those on surfaces can infect for hours • You are more likely to catch flu from touching an infected surface and then touching your face than any other means NOTE A person is only infectious if they have the symptoms
What’s the best way to prevent it spreading • Regular surface cleaning and hand washing will reduce threat. • Regular hand washing • Good hand and respiratory hygiene
If you think you have Swine Flu? Stay at home to prevent further spread Check their symptoms with: • www.nhs.uk; • The Swine Flu Information Line • 0800 1 513 513 • NHS Direct • 0845 46 47 • www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk
Still concerned? • Call your GP, who will be able to provide a clinical diagnosis over the phone. • Your GP will supply either a unique reference number or a voucher which your “Flu Friend” can then take to the Pharmacy or local collection centre to pick up your medicine – More about collection points later • A flu friend is someone who knows you and does not display flu symptoms
Who is most at risk of more serious harm? • Chronic lung disease • Chronic heart disease • Chronic kidney disease • Chronic liver disease • Chronic neurological disease • Low immune system • Diabetes mellitus • Had drug treatment for asthma within past 3 years • Pregnant women • Under 5s • 65 years and older (The oldest person in the UK with SF is only 61!) These should have anti-virals within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms
So what about a vaccine? • A new vaccine was needed, but its not yet ready • There has been good progress - first batches due in August • 60 million doses will be ready by December. Enough for 1/2 the population (each person requires two doses). • And enough vaccine ordered for the entire population
OK, so what’s next? • Its prudent to plan for large numbers of Swine Flu victims, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people • There is a National Flu line service for phone / online advice and diagnosis • We have an Antiviral Collection in The River Room, Castle Hall, 1 The Wash, Hertford, SG14 1PS • The opening hours are likely to change but up to date information can be found by clicking here Businesses • Businesses can expect a 30% absentee rate (10% actually infected and 20% looking after patients/family) • Employees are typically off work for less than one week
How would your place of work cope with swine flu absences Does your work place have: • A business continuity plan for emergencies? • An up to date contact list for all staff? • Publicised and clear hygiene procedures? • Identified critical services? • Well trained and informed staff?
National Flu Service – How it works • This will assess sufferers by phone or online • It will allocate unique authorisation number if appropriate • A “flu friend” should collect medicine on behalf of the patient from the Collection Point Remember - a Flu Friend shouldn’t have the symptoms so won’t be infectious Before anti-virals will be issued at the Collection Point, the Flu Friend will need to bring along:- • The unique number • Their own personal ID • The patients ID
Antiviral Collection Point • Ours is in the River Room, Castle Hall, Hertford SG14 1PS • For a map of its location click here • Remember both sets of ID and the unique reference number • People with flu symptoms will not be admitted
And finally... The best way to stop Swine Flu from spreading: • Good respiratory and hand hygiene. • Catch your sneeze in a tissue, place it quickly in a bin and wash your hands and surfaces regularly to kill the virus.
Check symptoms with • www.nhs.uk; • Swine Flu Information Line on 0800 1 513 513; • NHS Direct 0845 46 47 • or www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk Brian Simmonds Head of Community Safety East Herts Council