EAST CAMBS: Swine Flu Update: What To Look For. See Our Advice File

THE looming threat of the swine-flu pandemic has caused growing concern in communities across the country but authorities in Cambridgeshire insist they are well prepared should the worst happen. Eight people in the UK have so far been struck down with the

THE looming threat of the swine-flu pandemic has caused growing concern in communities across the country but authorities in Cambridgeshire insist they are well prepared should the worst happen.

Eighteen people in the UK have so far been struck down with the mystery influenza virus with hundreds more undergoing tests. Though the virus has yet to reach the county, local health and government agencies have assured the Ely Standard that measures are in place to protect the public.

A spokesman for East Cambridgeshire District Council said: "We are as prepared as we can be and we are working with all our partners at the Health Protection Agency to ensure we are kept updated."

The council's words were echoed by Cambridgeshire police who have told us: "We are taking our lead from the health authorities in this matter but we have contingency plans in place for every sort of scenario and are fully prepared should any cases arise in the county."


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Although it is not clear how swine-flu was first contracted, it is known that the virus was brought into the UK by travelers returning from Mexico and, unlike the much publicized bird-flu, is easily able to be transferred between people.

To try and minimize the risk of any potential outbreak NHS Cambridgeshire has set up a multi-agency Gold Command Group which is meeting regularly to discuss possible steps in the event that a flu-pandemic should break-out.

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The East of England NHS Trust has also formed an Incident Management Team which is meeting daily in Cambridge. Dr Paul Cosford, Regional Director of Public Health said, "People shouldn't feel unduly alarmed by the recent cases of swine flu in the UK. There is still a low risk of contracting swine flu in the UK.

"The good news from Mexico and other affected areas is that people diagnosed with swine flu who receive anti-virals, like Tamiflu, early enough seem to be recovering.

"We have a range of measures in place, including enough anti-virals to treat people if they become ill in the event of a pandemic."

Anyone who is displaying signs of flu and is unsure as whether they may be affected should contact their GP.

WHAT IS SWINE FLU?

A RESPIRATORY disease that has some elements

of a virus found in pigs. There is no evidence of this

disease circulating in pigs in the UK and scientists are

Investigating its origins.

Swine flu has been confirmed in a number of countries

and it is spreading from human to human, which could

lead to what is referred to as a pandemic flu outbreak.

Pandemic flu is different from ordinary flu because

it's a new flu virus that appears in humans and spreads

very quickly from person to person worldwide. The World

Health Organization (WHO) is closely monitoring cases

of swine flu globally to see whether this virus develops

into a pandemic.

Because it's a new virus, no one will have immunity to it

and everyone could be at risk of catching it. This includes

healthy adults as well as older people, young children

and those with existing medical conditions.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS

SOME of the symptoms are the sudden onset of fever,

cough or shortness of breath. Other symptoms can

include headache, sore throat, tiredness, aching muscles,

chills, sneezing, runny nose or loss of appetite.

HOW DOES SWINE FLU SPREAD?

FLU viruses are made up of tiny particles that can be spread

through the droplets that come out of your nose and

mouth when you cough or sneeze.

When you cough or sneeze without covering your

nose and mouth with a tissue, those droplets can spread

and others will be at risk of breathing them in.

If you cough or sneeze into your hand, those droplets

and the germs in them are then easily spread from your

hand to any hard surfaces that you touch, and they

can live on those surfaces for some time. Everyday items

such as door handles, computer keyboards, mobile

and ordinary phones and the TV remote control are all

common surfaces where flu viruses can be found.

If other people touch these surfaces and then touch their

faces, the germs can enter their systems and they can become

Infected. That's how all cold and flu viruses, including swine

flu, are passed on from person to person.

WHAT CAN I DO TO PROTECT MYSELF

The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to follow

good hygiene practices. These will help to slow the spread

of the virus and will be the single most effective thing you

can do to protect yourself and others from infection.

When you cough or sneeze it is especially important

to follow the rules of good hygiene to prevent the

spread of germs:

Always carry tissues.

Use clean tissues to cover your mouth and nose

when you cough and sneeze.

Bin the tissues after one use.

Wash your hands with soap and hot water or

a sanitiser gel often.

Available scientific evidence shows that basic

face masks don't protect people from becoming infected.

The best way to protect yourself and stop the spread of

flu viruses is by using and disposing of tissues and washing

your hands, as explained on the previous page.

Swine Flu Information Line on

0800 1 513 513 to hear the latest advice.

Do not go into your GP surgery or local accident

and emergency department unless you are

advised to do so or you are seriously ill, because

you might spread the illness to others. Ask a flu

friend to go out for you.

NHS Direct on 0845 4647.

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