Health & Safety
Swine Flu (H1N1 virus)
1 November 2009
The first swine-flu vaccinations against the H1N1 swine flu virus have begun amid concerns over a sharp rise in the number of critical cases being admitted to hospitals.
The symptoms are usually relatively mild and most people will feel unwell for a few days before making a full recovery. People with underlying health problems can become very ill. However, there is no reason to panic and people who are well should continue to go to work as normal even if someone in their building has fallen ill with swine flu; the risk to colleagues from this type of occupational contact is very low.
The National Pandemic Flu Service has been launched in England.
To contact the service
Some people are more at risk of complications if they catch swine flu, and need to start taking antivirals as soon as it is confirmed that they have the illness. Doctors may advise some high-risk patients to take antivirals before they have symptoms, if someone close to them has swine flu.
It is already known that people are particularly vulnerable if they have:
- chronic (long-term) lung disease,
- chronic heart disease,
- chronic kidney disease,
- chronic liver disease,
- chronic neurological disease (neurological disorders include motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease),
- immunosuppression (whether caused by disease or treatment), or
- diabetes mellitus.
Also at risk are:
- patients who have had drug treatment for asthma in the past three years,
- pregnant women,
- people aged 65 and over, and
- children under five.
The most effective way to prevent the spread of a virus is to practise good personal hygiene. Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough and sneeze, disposing of the tissue as soon as possible, and cleaning your hands as soon as you can are important actions that can help prevent the spread of germs.
The symptoms to look out for would be fever (usually high), headache, extreme tiredness, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Anyone with these symptoms should seek urgent medical advice and stay away from work until cleared by your doctor.