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Swine Flu

Monday, 27 April 2009

The outbreak of Swine Flu among humans in Mexico and the US has now become a cause for major concern around the world and particularly in Ireland as people have booked holidays in Mexico and the US and are now returning and could potentially be infected.

People have booked holidays to Mexico and the US in the next few weeks and are worried they may be at risk when travelling.

However, it is necessary to point out that:

. No cases of swine flu have been confirmed in Ireland or anywhere in Europe
. The current level of flu activity in Ireland is low
. There are no current travel restrictions on those who are planning to visit the affected areas. However, anyone with flu-like symptoms and who has recently travelled to the affected areas should stay at home, to limit contact with others, and seek medical advice from their general practitioner.

Dr Philip MacMahon, TAS family doctor & Professor Kingston Mills, Professor of school of biochemistry and immunology at Trinity College Dublin are here to discuss and inform us on this outbreak.

The following info is from The Irish Daily Mail:

What is swine flu?A respiratory illness of pigs, caused by several strains of influenza virus. Humans are rarely affected.

How does it spread? Usually, humans who have been in contact with pigs are at risk but this new HINI strain requires no contact with pigs at all; just humans coughing and sneezing.

Can you get it from eating pork? You can't get it from eating pork.
Symptoms? The same as normal, seasonal flu - fever, tiredness, loss of appetite and sore throat.

Why is this strain so dangerous? The death rate could be higher than normal flue because humans have no immunity to the virus.
Who is most at risk? The new strain appears to attack healthy young people aged 25 to 45 as have previous pandemics.

Why is this spreading so quickly? It has developed the ability to transmit between humans. The chances of flu are higher because of increased international air travel.

What is a Pandemic? An epidemic becomes a pandemic if it spreads over a number of countries and affects a large proportion of the population. Within the last 100 years there have been three pandemics.

Is there a vaccine? No. Anti viral drugs Tamiflu and Relenza are effective in treating swine flu. Any vaccine against the strains could take up to six months to develop.

How do we prevent infection? Good hygiene - covering the mouth when coughing and sneezing, throwing away used tissue carefully and cleaning surfaces which are regularly touched.