I’m sure there are a lot of people around the world in the same sort of situation: you’re lucky enough to hardly ever get colds and flu, and you developed a cold / flu in the last few days. Although you hope and think it’s not the new flu virus, there’s always a little doubt in your mind, especially if you’ve been to the Americas (north or south) recently, as I have.
I thought I better find out, so I phoned my doctor’s surgery and asked if I should be worried. They told me to phone the NHS Direct or the swine flu information line (0800 1 513 513) or to go to the direct gov website and check the symptoms through the symptoms checker and if I was still concerned I could speak to an advisor.
I did phone the 0800 number, which provides a lot of recorded information (what is this flu, how it is transmitted, what you can do to prevent its spreading, and the measures the government is putting in place) and they give useful advice too. They said if you are concerned you should phone your GP’s surgery or the NHS direct, but not to go to an A&E unit, unless you’re very ill. As I had all the symptoms, I thought I better phone the NHS direct line, which was very busy at the present, as I expected, but I eventually managed to speak to someone who took my details and phoned me back later. The NHS direct page gives some information on the anti-viral drugs (Tamiflu or Relenza), which basically relieve some of the flu symptoms, reduce the length of time you are ill by around one day, and reduce the potential for getting pneumonia. As they state in the NHS direct page, anti-viral drugs are not a cure. Therefore, all I really wanted was to find out how I could get hold of the anti-viral medicine. The government has a stock of 23 million of Tamiflu and 10.5 million of Relenza.
The NHS direct advisor asked whether I had been to
The NHS advisor phoned me later to say there were only 4
confirmed cases in the Ontario Province
In summary, you will never know if your flu was caused by the H1N1 virus or not, because you’ll only be tested if you’ve been to Mexico in the past week or have been in contact with the 8 people in the UK who have been confirmed as having mild swine flu. I’m not worried, because as fellow blogger Isobel said in her Monday blog most deaths are a result of bacterial infection of people weakened by the flu and not the virus itself. Therefore, I just have to beat the virus before developing pneumonia, which is likely considering I am a very healthy person and determined not to be beaten by some virus, whatever it might be. But I was touching my desk, which is wooden, as I wrote this last sentence, just in case...
If you want to know more about the H1N1 flu virus, please read the other handpicked blogs, which are all written by Cabi health experts.