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Swine Flu - H1N1 Virus

Many parents are worried about 'Swine Flu' , also called the Influenza A (H1N1) virus, and are confused by the many scare-mongering stories around.

Here are the simple facts and some tips on what you can do to protect your family.

Bullet If someone in your family has been to an affected country or been in contact with an infected person, you should NOT go to the doctor as if you are infected you could end up spreading the virus even more.

Call your surgery first or speak to NHS Direct on 0845 4647 in England, NHS 24 on 08454 24 24 24 in Scotland, NHS Direct Wales on 0845 4647 in Wales or in Northern Ireland call 0800 0514 142.

Bullet The best way to protect your children is to teach them how important good hygiene is. The same as with any illness/disease, the best form of defence is to be as hygienic as possible. Make sure your children always have packets of tissues with them and that they know how to use them. You need to teach the kids to sneeze, blow or cough into a tissue and then (and this bit is VERY IMPORTANT) throw it away. Then they should wash their hands. Obviously this advice is the same for everyone - parents and children alike.

Bullet Eating pork and bacon is absolutely fine. It's completely safe to eat pork - so long as you follow all the usual rules of cooking it until it's completely cooked through and there are no pink juices.

Bullet There is no vaccination for Swine Flu / H1N1 at the moment but researchers are obviously working on finding one. The anti-viral drugs that everyone is talking about aren't a cure but they can reduce the symptoms of flu. This means that they help the body recover and reduce the risk of more serious secondary infections or complications.

Bullet The government suggests that everyone should make plans for a list of 'flu friends' who can help you when/if you and your family are sick. If friends can pick up prescriptions for you and shop for food and drink then you won't have to leave the house and risk spreading the virus.

Bullet In the event of someone in your family falling ill, The World Health organisation advises separating the ill person from others as soon as possible, ideally keeping the person at least one metre from others. If you are looking after the ill person, then you should always try to cover your mouth and nose when you're with them. After every single contact with the ill person, you should wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Ventilate the room the ill person is in. Use doors and windows to tcreate a bit of a draught. Make sure their room and your house is kept clean with all the usual household cleaners.

For more information download the government's Swine Flu leaflet here.

May 2009
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