I have a flu – how do I know it isn’t swine flu (H1N1 virus flu)?

Well, I don’t! And I probably will never know. Read on to find
out why…

Tissue box 2
 

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 Mexico or had been
in contact with people who have been confirmed to have the swine flu. I said
no, but that I had been to Canada 10 days before developing the flu. She told me I didn’t fit
the pattern of suspect cases, which is having been to Mexico in the
past 7 days or being in contact with a swine flu confirmed case. I can’t help
thinking this is a simplistic way of deciding who is suitable for screening. I think at least some of the people who don't fit the pattern should be tested too, so that we would have a better idea of the extent of the spreading of the virus. I also
asked how I could get hold of Tamiflu or Relenza anyway, just in case, (well, I
hate being woken up several times a night by my coughing fits and if I could have something to reduce
the time I have flu it would be definitely welcome) and she said the NHS is
only handing out the drugs to those with confirmed H1N1 flu and the people the
ill people had been in contact with; they are not going to be available in
drugstores to avoid panic buying.

The NHS advisor phoned me later to say there were only 4
confirmed cases in the Ontario Province
where I had
been, therefore, it was unlikely I had been in contact with anyone with the
virus and not to worry. However, she asked if I had any other illness such as
diabetes or heart condition and I said no. She said if I became poorly to phone
my doctor and he would arrange for me to have a test done at a hospital. She
also advised me to take the usual precautions, such as placing a tissue in
front of my mouth when coughing or sneezing and to wash my hands often and wipe
any hard surfaces I touched with antibacterial wipes (I will wipe my computer mouse shortly) to prevent
passing the virus to anyone in my house.

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.

3 thoughts on “I have a flu – how do I know it isn’t swine flu (H1N1 virus flu)?

  1. Steve Kimbrey May 1, 2009 / 11:27 am

    Cool. I liked that.
    I’m fed up with all the media making a mountain out of a mole hill.
    When I first heard about deaths from flu in Mexico my immediate thoughts were ‘Mexico probably has a worse healthcare system to us’ and ‘They probably died from some disease/infection caused by the weakening of the immune system due to the flu, not the actual… Read More flu itself’ (related to my first thought)
    Also, as the NHS Direct people told you, if you’ve not been in contact with anyone in who has been to Mexico you’re probably fine. And if not, you can take medicine to make you better. WHO have said, it’s a short lived virus that can be easily treated.
    And another thing (!) As they told you, there were only 4 people confirmed to have H1N1 in Ontario, so it’s highly unlikely you’ll have caught it from them…There are over 65 million people in the UK. There are 8 confirmed cases, all of whom have taken medicine and are recovering well and quickly.What are the chances you’ve encountered one of those 8. Especially considering they’re so far spread. The first 2 confirmed cases were in Scotland! The media seems to have hyped this up way too much.
    I keep reading headlines saying “We’re at alert level 5. That means a pandemic is imminent”…no it doesn’t, it means we’re at level 5. Imminent suggests it’s right about to happen. Which it isn’t. WHO have also said there’s no evidence to suggest it will ever rise to level 6 with H1N1. Level 6 would mean that there were multiple cases of large numbers of human to human transfers in multiple areas around the world.
    And the situation doesn’t seem to be getting worse to me.
    There’s no need for so much panic. This really isnt a big issue.
    End of rant.
    I hope you feel better soon though =]

  2. Vera Barbosa May 1, 2009 / 11:31 am

    I like your rant, as I feel the same way, it’s just a flu with mild symptoms in the end of the day!
    Thanks! I’m sure I’ll survive!

  3. John Mcnamee May 3, 2009 / 12:22 pm

    Please spare 6 minutes of your life and watch this film. Over 2,000,000 people have watched and shared this film, who care about hunger and human inequality. If you deem appropriate, please share it with your members, friends, students, and family – all who care about hunger and its impact on human race.
    ———————————-
    THE FILM : It is a TRUE STORY
    Chicken a la Carte
    Director: Ferdinand Dimadura | Genre: Drama |
    http://www.cultureunplugged.com/play/1081/Chicken-a-la-Carte
    This film is about the hunger and poverty brought about by Globalization. There are 10,000 people dying everyday due to hunger and malnutrition. This short film shows a forgotten portion of the society. The people who lives on the refuse of men to survive. What is inspiring is the hope and spirituality that never left this people.

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