Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Swine flu

The UK government is doing its best to keep people from panicking. On the radio we're being informed that swine flu is a mild illness, only to be informed a few minutes later that the 17th person to die from the disease in the country has just died, and that the person was previously healthy and was not known to suffer any underlying health problems. Then some senior medical person in the government comes on air and tells us that the outbreak of the disease is nearing epidemic proportions in the London area, and that GP surgeries are having difficulty coping with the massive influx of people reporting flu-like symptoms. Then a government minister comes on and tells us not to worry and that we will all be ok. Its all very confusing.

I think that there has been a failure by the authorities to contain the outbreak of the disease at the time when they still had the chance to do so and now they are refusing to accept responsibility for this failure or even to acknowledge it. This is only the summer, its not even the flu season yet. They tell us that the outbreak is set to get worse later in the year and that more deaths are inevitable. But at the same time they tell us not to worry.

My friend in Australia told me of the panic in that country when the disease first arrived there. Relying on what the UK government had been saying all along about the disease, I tried to reassure him that it was only a mild ailment and that he need not to worry so much. That was a few weeks ago. Now with the news reports coming through as to how virulent this outbreak has become in the London area and news of the deaths, (two previously healthy people died yesterday), I'm not so sure anymore. In fact, I've become a bit scared. I'm avoiding shaking hands with people, washing my hands at every opportunity and keeping away from all forms of public transport for the time being.


Anonymous said...

My daughter currently has (or maybe hasnt) got swine flu... if I am being completely honest, if this is the dreaded swine flu then it is milder than any flu I have ever had.. started with her sleeping all day on sun, waking up at 8pm with an intermittent cough, then she had some cough mixture, I went to bed and she woke me up by calling me at 6am to say she feels really ill, she had a very high temp, sore throat, aching all over, banging headache. Dosed her up with paracetomol, she slept again all day, woke up that eve as perky as ever and even had food. today she has a bit more of a cough but still intermittent, temperature has gone, aches seem to have subsided, she just looks and smells a bit ill... so yes, it is relatively mild in my daughters case if not extremely mild. Most cases in fact that I have heard of in the community have all been pretty much the same, some lasting a week or so, some having a more sore throat but like they say its self limiting. The doc gave me tamiflu for her but we havent bothered with it as the side effects of taking it with sickness and diahorrea seemed to be a worse prospect than the actual flu itself. Hope this has helped a tad, I think all people that have had, or family have had confirmed or suspected swine flu should make the details of how they felt and the symptoms and how long it lasted public, then people won't panic as much as they are.

Tamaku said...

A British student in a group of 33 others brought the first swine flu case to Kenya late last month :(
It could seriously disrupt our tourism as we enter the high season.

BTW, not blaming, just stating.

Anengiyefa said...

Hello Anonymous, that was quite enlightening. By the way, welcome to this blog. You're the first contact that I've had with someone who has a first-hand experience of the disease. All the reports seem to suggest that the symptoms are mild when the sufferer is otherwise healthy and its kind of heartening to hear of your daughter who was non-the-worse afterwards.

I read today that the average death occurence in ordinary flu is 1 in 1000. With swine flu, its said to be 5 in 1000, which is still quite low when compared to the Spanish flu outbreak of 1918 when 20 in 1000 died of the disease.

Still, I think that playing down the seriousness of this disease might cause people to relax the preventative measures (hygeine etc) that they would otherwise take, and thereby allow the virus free rein such that it will more readily reach those who are vulnerable because of underlying conditions like asthma or even pregnancy. And there are others like HIV+ people whose immune system is already compromised and therefore are unable to fight off infection as effectively.

So actually, I think its important to alert people of the presence of this disease in our midst and while not panicking, still recognising the need to continue with those preventative measures that they've been taking.

Anengiyefa said...

Hi Tamaku, this is the first I'm hearing o the disease in sub-saharan Africa. I know that it arrived in Egypt weeks ago though. I'm not sure I quite understand how this case of swine flu, or even the spread of the disease could disrupt the tourism industry. Or is it me not being imaginative enough?

Anonymous said...

Hello again, I totally agree that people shouldnt be complacent, I wasnt and my daughter was also washing her hands at every opportunity and using hand gels and such but she still managed to catch it. We heard today that two of her friends also have it. They have been chatting to each other on facebook all evening comparing symptoms. One of the friends is asthmatic and she is experiencing the same symptoms as my daughter, no worse. They are all 14 yrs. It doesnt seem to go onto the chest its definitely more throaty in the cases I know about and they all seem to be making a quite rapid recovery. I did however start giving my daughter the tamiflu today as she got up this morning with a raging temperature again and fainted and fell over when she stood up. I dosed her up again with paracetomol and ibuprofen and she was fine again within an hour or so. I also decided to start her on the tamiflu just in case. It was a bit of a scare but then temperatures can be nasty whatever illness you have. I also think it is too early for the statistics they are giving out becuase there are far more people with the flu than they know about and they are only going by confirmed cases not unconfirmed so really there is no evidence yet of the mortality rate. I am just waiting now to succumb to it. If I do will let you know how it has affected me. I am 'healthy' I suppose but I do smoke and I do seem to catch most illnesses floating about so we will see. Take care, catch you soon.

Mwistar said...

If you live in a country that provides the seasonal flu vaccine, then you shouldn't worry too much.

What happens is, every year, any 'dangerous' flu strain that crops up is usually included in the next year's flu shot. This give some protection against most flu strains ... as long as if they mutate, they use the DNA from the strains we already know about. That's also where the problem lies.

First, it takes at least a year to fill orders; and pharmaceutical companies will make it at their leisure, IF there are enough orders from countries, to make it worth while as a business.

Second, if swine mutated with a virus we don't already have a vaccine for, or one that is drug resistant, and we know of many... it gets ugly very quickly. In places where they don't give flu shots, ie they lack resistance to flu strains from years back (like Africa), H1N1 could mutate with last year's bug and wreck havoc.

Anengiyefa said...

You're rght Mwistar. Let us hope that the virus does not make its way to Africa, although we all know that the ease of travel that we have achieved in the modern world, has been exploited by viruses such that outreaks of any kind have the potential of spanning the entire globe very quickly indeed.

Anonymous said...

Hi, anaon again. Update, I dont seem to have succumbed and have been in my daughters presence all week. I did have a flu jab last October so it could be that I have some resistance. I also had a very bad flu about 13 years ago which knocked me for six and lasted for weeks, so maybe that strain of flu had H1N1 in it too. I dont know. I wouldnt have thought it would take a week to incubate so hopefully thats the last I will see of this strain of flu til the new vaccine in autumn. Take care everyone, oh and my daughter has fully recovered now :)