BBC BLOGS - Fergus On Flu
« Previous | Main | Next »

Should I worry about a flu pandemic?

Fergus Walsh | 15:34 PM, Thursday, 11 June 2009

Flu pandemics are an inevitable fact of life.

There were three in the 20th Century. The worst, Spanish flu in 1918, killed perhaps 50 to 100 million people - but that was before the antibiotic era.

The pandemics of 1957 and 1968 killed one to two million. Even that sounds alarming, but bear in mind that normal seasonal flu contributes to up half a million deaths per year.

And H1N1 flu is currently so mild that, in terms of deaths, it might not be much worse than a bad normal winter of flu.

But it is different in the groups it targets. Very few elderly people are catching H1N1 flu, probably because they have immunity due to exposure to similar flu viruses.

Instead, the peak groups are children and young adults aged 5-24, followed by children under five, and then adults under 50. Most of those who fall seriously ill, with complications like pneumonia, have underlying health problems.

lavarte_ap226.jpgBut of the 140 or so deaths so far worldwide, about half have been in previously-healthy people. That is what prompted the World Health Organization to change its description of the virus from a mild to a moderate disease.

People will want to know when they are likely to be exposed to H1N1. That's impossible to say with any accuracy, but the summer months may suppress the virus somewhat in Britain, and it may be the late autumn or beyond before we see a full-scale epidemic in every community.

The government's pandemic plans suggest that perhaps a third of the population could get infected, causing huge rates of absenteeism from work, and extra pressure on the health service.

There is concern that the virus might mutate in the southern hemisphere over its winter and become more virulent, but there's no sign of that yet.

A pandemic vaccine is in early development; it will be autumn before the first doses are ready; they will be earmarked for front-line health workers and those with health problems.

Comments

or register to comment.

  • 1. At 4:15pm on 11 Jun 2009, JamesJester wrote:

    140 deaths so far, how many billions of people in the world?
    What a fuss about nothing, the WHO are only trying to justify their existence!

    Complain about this comment

  • 2. At 4:15pm on 11 Jun 2009, defenderofparliament wrote:

    Yes it is a concern you're Right Mr Fergus,
    however it is important that people don't go mad about it,
    As long as we do the basic things that people should do when they go to the toilets etc, eg. washing hands regularly
    Using tissues and throwing them in the bin rather than out the car window or on the floor.
    All basic things and just to keep an eye on each other, If you feel unwell ring the NHS Flu number.

    I hope everyone who does get it will of course get better,
    We just have to hope that it'll be over a lot quicker than it started.

    Complain about this comment

  • 3. At 4:27pm on 11 Jun 2009, Steve Thomas wrote:

    The real question is whether out of any of those low-risk deaths, did any show evidence of the pathological cytokyne response that supposedly characterized the Spanish flu? Did they die of secondary complications like pnuemonia or did they die due to their immune response?

    Complain about this comment

  • 4. At 4:45pm on 11 Jun 2009, YoungElston wrote:

    I'm looking ahead to the summer (school) holidays when we plan to fly off to Turkey. Airports and planes being great places to catch viruses, I suppose there is a possibility that some of us will suffer from flu during our holiday. Do you know if countries like Turkey will have stocks of anti-virals ready for such eventualities? Or will the UK health authorities issue them to us as we leave? Or will the insurers deem flu serious enough to fly us home (and spread it around a bit more)? Or will we just keep our fingers crossed?

    Complain about this comment

  • 5. At 4:54pm on 11 Jun 2009, SomersetCanary wrote:

    I hope Swine Flu comes to the UK soon as a pandemic. Far better for it to hit the population in the summer when our immunity levels are high, than to come in the winter, when as well as our immunity being lower, it will probably have mutated into something more deadlier.

    Complain about this comment

  • 6. At 5:15pm on 11 Jun 2009, simplyunderstand wrote:

    I've done a translation of the government's swineflu leaflet over at my website - http://www.simplyunderstand.com. It's mainly meant for people who find reading difficult, but it might be helpful for more! If you notice I've got anything wrong, please let me know so I can correct it.

    Complain about this comment

  • 7. At 5:27pm on 11 Jun 2009, Illumillama wrote:

    Fergus, I'm disappointed by the first paragraph in this blog. Influenza is a virus, and therefore is not treatable with antibiotics, so the fact that the Spanish Flu came about before antibiotics is immaterial. We have an ongoing problem with people getting antibiotics for viral infections, leading to a rise in drug-resistant bacterial infections. It is time for less sloppy reporting in the media!

    Other than that, good blog!

    Complain about this comment

  • 8. At 5:44pm on 11 Jun 2009, funnyoptimism wrote:

    I have been following your blog with interest.

    Sorry to bother you with something so trivial when swine flu is so serious, but i noticed that on a foreign version of Dettol soap that is sold in a local grocery store (dont ask me what language - im pretty sure it wasnt german or french and most probably not spanish), 'H1N1 A influenza virus' (among salmonella and other bugs) is a virus the soap claims to kill. Surely Dettol cant claim to kill swine flu! that soap had been sold in shops way before swine flu was around. Do you think it was a misprint on the packaging? im not quite sure whether the English version of Dettol soap claims to kill this flu virus too, but i checked one million times what i saw. it cant be possible, can it, for two different types of flu viruses to have one name?

    Complain about this comment

  • 9. At 6:02pm on 11 Jun 2009, twangyourkipper wrote:

    fear fear & more fear
    140 people worldwide die over 2 months & The media get hysterical bbc included...
    how many have died from starvation or malaria car or crashes etc etc...
    this is about the world Health organisation flexing it's muscle & huge profits for big pharma. & anyway i heard it was made in a lab as it consists of swine flu, bird flu and human flu and these strains don't tend to cross speices.
    Perhaps is part of this New World order thing i've been reading about?


    Complain about this comment

  • 10. At 6:03pm on 11 Jun 2009, funnyoptimism wrote:

    sorry, i was being ignorant. from reading other stuff about swine flu on the bbc website, i now realise that it is a sad fact that many flu viruses hav the same name

    Complain about this comment

  • 11. At 6:20pm on 11 Jun 2009, mazza46 wrote:

    Should we be worried, we are planning a trip to Canada and California in September this year?? What do you think about the flu pandemic???
    We have not booked it yet but are just about to do so??

    Complain about this comment

  • 12. At 6:32pm on 11 Jun 2009, luv_n_haight wrote:

    Can someone explain why the flu virus will spread more in the winter? I presume March/April in Mexico is probably hot/hotter than June and possibly July in the UK, but obviously it spread there, so why would the summer help curtail its spread here?

    In other words, is it the absolute value of the temperature that affects the flu virus spread, or the value relative to the average temperature of the country involved? If it is the absolute temperature, wouldn't that mean countries like the UK would be much worse affected than, for instance, African ones?

    Complain about this comment

  • 13. At 6:42pm on 11 Jun 2009, JamesJester wrote:

    Mazza46 - go head and book it. If you followed everything you read in the news you wouldn't travel on a plane!

    Complain about this comment

  • 14. At 6:48pm on 11 Jun 2009, diggerjohn111 wrote:

    I agree that this is something to be watched closely. But between the media and overly self-important UN bodies, the coverage and severity of this is being blown way out of proportion. Score more people have been killed on the world's highways and roads than by this virus since it has first been reported. Has anyone suggested closing all the roads, making people wear crash helmets before backing out of their drive? I know there is a chance this could mutate, but there is also a chance that a killer asteroid could come careening into the earth. Does the W.H.O. suggest I find a larger rock to hide under?

    Complain about this comment

  • 15. At 7:28pm on 11 Jun 2009, carennydd wrote:

    My daughter has had both physical and psychological traumas recently and has been given anti-depressants and tramadol for pain. All opiate based painkillers reduce the bodies natural endorphins as do the traumas which in turn lowers the immune system. Experts are saying that people with existing medical conditions are most at risk from swine flu and I think this is the reason why. Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) increases the bodies own endorphins dramatically (see First European conference on LDN Ap.2009)but it is not licenced in this low dose form. I think all people with low endorphin levels should have LDN available to them so that they will be strong enough to fight this flu virus if they become infected.

    Complain about this comment

  • 16. At 7:32pm on 11 Jun 2009, osteogenesis wrote:

    Since the whole family have come down with all the symptoms of swine flu, and my gp says only we have a virus that needs no antibiotics, how do we know if we have had the disease therefore are immune to it when it comes back in the winter months? My GP refuses to talk of Swine flu, saying the high temperature, throat infection, etc is viral!

    Complain about this comment

  • 17. At 8:46pm on 11 Jun 2009, steph0g wrote:

    A very good, balanced article, highlighting that flu is part of life and should be regarded with caution, but not with panic. However in my capacity as a biomedical scientist, I would like to remind Fergus Walsh that antibiotics are exclusively anti-bacterial and that influenza is a virus, requiring anti-viral drugs.

    Complain about this comment

  • 18. At 8:50pm on 11 Jun 2009, eskabix wrote:

    You can suffer from viral pneumonia while having A/H1N1 or catch bacterial pneumonia as a secondary infection. Only the latter can be treated with antibiotics but not A/H1N1 or any other flu/viral infection.

    Complain about this comment

  • 19. At 9:02pm on 11 Jun 2009, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    There are quite a few of us living in the UK, somewhere near 70 million people. Flu, even for a couple of days of high temperature and sickness will require some sort of treatment. We are encouraged to stay at home to avoid infecting others. Looking at the logistics of this, I can see that we cannot rely on doctors or hospitals to get us the individual attention we expect under normal circumstances. If we are on our own and too ill to go out, how can we communicate to others to get help?
    1) Make sure your HOUSE NUMBER OR NAME is clearly visible for rapid identification.
    2) Write a list of telephone contacts of people you know who might help to get you medicine or supplies.
    3) Get to know your immediate neighbors and make a plan with them just for emergencies.
    4) If you are alone and ill and cannot get immediate help, have a pre-arranged signal that you can stick on the door or window, signaling for help.
    5) Keep a few basic flue medicines handy, and some easy to prepare long-life food for while you are expected to stay at home.
    6) Find out what your natural body temperature is now, and record it somewhere. Some of us have a very low normal temperature which drops even lower during illness.
    7) Have your doctor, hospital number and regular prescription info handy, in an easy-to-find place.
    8) Don't leave it to the last minute to replace regular prescriptions.
    9) Work out a plan for safe child collection, childcare if nurseries and schools close because the staff are ill.
    10) Keep to the advise about hand cleaning etc.
    11) If you are ill with flu don't go into work because you feel your fellow workers can't manage without you, you won't be popular.
    12) Don't be worried, just be sensible and prepared for all eventualities.

    Complain about this comment

  • 20. At 9:03pm on 11 Jun 2009, JukeJohn wrote:

    Yje fact that younger, healthy people fare worse with this kind of virus incicates that it is their Immune Response that kills them, not the disease.

    Don't confuse this with the immunity that older people get to various imfections.

    We need to treat the over-reaction in young, strong bodies to the infection as well as the infection itself.

    But also remember, during the entire "Epi/Pandemic" so far, we have had 140 deaths. Each of those is tragic, but in the USA alone, over 100 people die EACH DAY from "normal" influenza strains.

    Complain about this comment

  • 21. At 9:09pm on 11 Jun 2009, JukeJohn wrote:

    To "luv_n_haight":

    In winter, people tend to stay indoors more often, in closer quarters, breathing recycled air. We seal our homes to keep cold outside air out - We probably don't bathe or wash our hands as often - What better way to spread viruses from person-to-person?

    To "osteogenesis":

    Your family had "all the symptoms of swine flu"? What exactly are they and how can you make that Dx without lab tests. The symptoms of swine flu are exactly the same as for any number of the hundreds of influenza variants.

    Complain about this comment

  • 22. At 9:27pm on 11 Jun 2009, osteogenesis wrote:

    Jukejohn
    The medical notes on symptoms are confusing because as you rightly state, seasonal flu and swine flu symptoms are virtually the same. So why cant lab tests be done so if we have had swine flu, we wouldnt need vaccinations this coming winter. That is what I am asking.

    Complain about this comment

  • 23. At 10:12pm on 11 Jun 2009, missmozartfan wrote:

    Well I have had swine flu! I have been ill for 5 weeks. I think I now have postviral fatigue.I don't know who I caught it from and none of my 'contacts' have caught it. My symptoms were atypical, so the doctors were surprised when my swabs tested positive. But, because it is such a new strain of virus, it has hit me very hard and my body is still struggling to recover. So no, it may not be a life threatening illness for me, but in terms of work days lost it is a disaster. I wonder if anyone else has this experience?

    Complain about this comment

  • 24. At 10:46pm on 11 Jun 2009, JukeJohn wrote:

    Osteo...

    Most seasonal vaccinations are a "cocktail" meant to protect against several variants so I'd go ahead and have yours anyway.

    Far as I can tell, the only real difference in outward symptom profile between H1N1 (swine Flu) and most of the other types is that they kill the frail and compromised while Swine/Bird flu variants kill the stromg and healthy.

    Of course "lab tests can be done" but unless there are other factors present the authorities and/or insurance will not pay for them.

    Complain about this comment

  • 25. At 00:19am on 12 Jun 2009, Pocket wrote:

    the pandemic status is justified even though Swine Flu had appeared to have died down, as for the comment on only 140 dead, it also affects the economy as many man hours of labour will be lost through illness, swine flu is highly contagious and if it were to mutate into a more dangerous strain then it would be able to kill indiscriminatly, the WHO are not just justifying their existance, they are warning the world of what it may face.

    Complain about this comment

  • 26. At 02:46am on 12 Jun 2009, planner76 wrote:

    At the peak of this flu pandemic in the UK, what proportion of staff are expected to be off-sick? How long might the peak of the pandemic last - a week? two months? This information would help managers to plan how to cope with the likely staff shortages. I can't find this advice on the internet.

    Complain about this comment

  • 27. At 03:32am on 12 Jun 2009, Cogito wrote:

    In respect of the statistics and the daily 'body count' could someone in the know please tell us how many of the currently 850 or so people who have been infected with H1N1 are actually *currently* suffering from it so we can get it into perspective. Given that we're watching that number only go up, it's pretty obvious that the people who had it a week or more ago must have recovered by now, therefore the pool of infected people must remain pretty small. Can the statistics also take account of the drop off rate for past recovered cases too please? It would probably help people not to panic if they only see a small number of currently ill cases.

    Complain about this comment

  • 28. At 07:35am on 12 Jun 2009, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    Come on everyone, the virus is here, does it really matter how many people have got H1NI, knowing isn't going to change things, or make the bug go away.

    I thought i had started the ball rolling, thinking about how we can help ourselves and each other.

    Come on, get some positive ideas posted, things and ideas that really might help us plan and protect.

    Thank you planner 76, you need to be looking on WHO, CDC etc because they have links to 'pandemic prepardness' as they call it on US Department of Health and Human Services. I am sure we also have links on British websites by now as I am sure I saw advice for employers somewhere. i don't think peaks and one or two weeks fit the general pattern of this situation. Start planning long-term, over the winter, into the spring. Start thinking 'peaks of waves.'

    missmozartfan, poor old you! I hope you are feeling a bit better now. It would help us if we knew what atypical symptoms you had, just in case we experience the same symptoms.

    I know this is not environmentally friendly Juke John, perhaps under the circumstances we should open the windows a little bit more during the winter, just to get a clean batch of fresh air through the house. I think the worry is if normal flu and H1N1 team up to give us a hard time. You don't need a flu test to know if you are really ill and need medical support. I have seen bars of soap for 13p each so no excuses.

    Digger John, most bugs are opportunists. The flu could weaken the immune system, making it easier for bugs that normally leave us alone to have a go. Law of the jungle.




    Complain about this comment

  • 29. At 07:46am on 12 Jun 2009, sonofsun wrote:

    I do get rather annoyed by stories that start with "Should you be worried about ....." because most of the time there is very little that we can do about things. We should try not to worry and carry on as best we can. If there is some action we can take then the worry can be converted to something positive, but if we are essentially powerless then needless worry serves no usefull purpose.

    Complain about this comment

  • 30. At 09:02am on 12 Jun 2009, Fergus Walsh (BBC) wrote:

    Thanks Illumi-llama. I realise flu can't be treated with antibiotics but bacterial pneumonia - one of the many complications that lead to hospitalisation - can be; the death toll in 1918-1919 would have been far smaller if we had had penicillin.

    Complain about this comment

  • 31. At 09:39am on 12 Jun 2009, JamesJester wrote:

    I'm sorry quigglebert, but, as many other people have written, 140 deaths are nothing compared to other illnesses and causes of deaths worldwide. The WHO is only in it for commercial reasons and is trying to justify their own existence! There has been needless propaganda worldwide on the news leading to discussions like this one.

    I sympathise with those who have swine flu, as it can not be pleasant, but I really do think that we need to put this into perspective.

    Complain about this comment

  • 32. At 1:03pm on 12 Jun 2009, Sutara wrote:

    The real issue is about control of the spread of the infection and to what degree we are now able to control it, if at all.

    Although I have heard of almost bizarre civil contingency plans - I even read once of plans to evacuate London to the South Coast by train in the event of a pandemic - the reality is that if you start evacuating people en masse, you will probably be moving both healthy and infected people together because you won't necessarily be able to always tell the difference and some people might not tell the truth because they don't want to be moved or they don't want to be separated from the rest of their families, or whatever.

    Having said that, so far the UK has taken measures like closing schools for a week or two, but how far do you transpose that idea. If someone goes off from a huge Tesco's with flu, will that supermarket / hypermarket be closed for a week? I don't think so. If some MP contracts it, will Parliament be shut for two weeks? I don't think so. If someone in one of those huge office blocks full of civil servants contracts it, will hundreds of DOH, DWP, MOD, Treasury or whatever workers be told to stay at home for a week or two? I don't think so.

    So, for those sort of reasons we can assume the rate of infection will now accelerate rapidly as, for all intents and purposes, it is 'out in the wild' and beyond realistic quarantine and isolation measures.

    However, people should remember that various civil contingency legislation does allow the relevant Secretary of State to issue various orders that could, if used, severely limit or change the way we lead our lives. I'm not suggesting that is at all likely to happen, but the statutory framework does exist if things get seriously out of control.

    Complain about this comment

  • 33. At 1:16pm on 12 Jun 2009, Sutara wrote:

    27. At 03:32am on 12 Jun 2009, cogitodexter wrote:

    " ...could someone ... please tell us how many of the currently 850 or so people who have been infected with H1N1 are actually *currently* suffering from it so we can get it into perspective."


    Valid point, there has been little mention of for how long people remain infectious. The assumption is that once a person recovers from the symptoms they cease to be an infection risk. That might be correct, but I don't know that for sure and perhaps neither do many other people.

    Complain about this comment

  • 34. At 1:36pm on 12 Jun 2009, Sutara wrote:

    #8. funnyoptimism

    Don't most domestic soaps and cleaners kill flu (and other) viruses?

    Isn't that why there have been these massive campaigns washing your hands with soap and water?

    (To which I would personally add, as much as is sensibly possible, also regularly wipe clean 'commonly touched' surfaces, e.g. phones, keyboards, door handles, light switches, toilet flushes, remote controls, lift buttons, etc., etc. There's not much gain in washing your hands and then contaminating them a few moments later because the last person to use the office photocopier or the door entryphone doesn't bother to wash his/hers.)

    Whatever - if I do get the thing, I might take paracetamol, or even Tamiflu, but I'm not going to start munching through bars of Dettol soap!

    Complain about this comment

  • 35. At 2:04pm on 12 Jun 2009, unconditionalyME wrote:

    I think there is nothing to worry about,it is a simple flu, people are blowing the situation out of proportion because it is unknown and new.
    It angers me when they tell you 141 people died but they do not tell you if they were already ill or weak or if they lived in poor circumstances.

    Complain about this comment

  • 36. At 4:23pm on 12 Jun 2009, PeterRankin wrote:

    In Croydon the GP surgeries actually AID and ENCORAGE the spread of germs and infections by making people 'log in' to the surgery rather than talk to the receptionists!

    I've published pictures of it here on http://www.theblogwithtwolegs.co.uk/ under the story 'SWINE FLU UPDATE - GP HEALTH RISK'.

    Not only do they make everyone touch the same parts of the same screen, but they don't provide handwash before or screen-wipes for after! You'd think that doctors would understand basic hygiene. Completely mad!

    Complain about this comment

  • 37. At 4:33pm on 12 Jun 2009, JukeJohn wrote:

    To "SensibleOldGrannie":

    You are quite right about opening windows - I learnt long ago from my parents (who were almost never ill) that when it gets colder, to keep windows open and simply add more blankets to the bed, wear another sweater or jacket but as long as possible, keep fresh air coming through the house.

    Obviously this is not possible when the temps get really low but do it as long as possible, wash hands often and follow sensible habits re sneezing, etc and we could probably cut transmission rates in half or better.

    Complain about this comment

  • 38. At 5:20pm on 12 Jun 2009, SkylineOnFire wrote:

    Im really getting annoyed at the media coverage. Il point out the reasons this virus CANNOT become another 1918 style mass killer.

    1. The basic one, a virus will only evolve/mutate when it deems it necessary to increase its transfer rate, and guaruntee its survival. Right now its doing a 99 percent perfect job of both of those, it has no need to evolve. Its highly contageous, and is being passed around perfectly.

    2. A very deadly virus gives itself a problem. It kills the host. If the virus kills the host, it doesnt infect as many people, so its counter productive to the virus to mutate into this form.

    3. In 2005, a team of scientists from Mount Sinai medical school rebuilt the 1918 influenza strain using fragments of old lung tissue from the victims of that strain. It was noted this is such a rare occurence, once in a 10 millenia. And that was the very worst a flu virus can get. Even faced with that virus again, nowhere near that number would die. After world war 2, poverty was rife, awful sanitary conditions, zero anti virals etc.... and squalid conditions meant that the virus passed through the very unhealthy population in comparison with todays people, incredibly quickly and violently. If that strain ever made another pass at us, the death count would be at least three quarters less than it was then. At least.

    4. Flu chromosomes are quite simple eight short strands of RNA that issue the genetic code for a grand total of 11 proteins. They break apart in a jumble inside cells they infect, and then they reassemble, picking up random bits of other flus, which makes the results unpredictable. The swine flu strain lacks several genes known to increase lethality, including those that code for two proteins known as PB1-F2 and NS-1, and one that codes for a tongue-twister called the polybasic hemagglutinin cleavage site.
    PB1-F2 appears to weaken the protective membrane of the energy-producing mitochondria in an infected cell, ultimately killing the cell. Specifically, it attacks dendritic cells, the sentinels of the immune system. Its lethality could be accidental a protein good at killing sentries might just go on killing other cells once inside the fort. All pandemic flus, including those of the Spanish, Hong Kong and Asian flus, make PB1-F2. So does the H5N1 bird flu. The current swine strain does not. The NS-1 protein also maims the immune response by blocking interferon, an antiviral protein made by cells. Hence the fact there are NO cytokine storms in any of the victims.


    Basically.... This virus cannot even mutate into something as bad as the hong kong or asian flu, let alone the spanish influenza of 1918! Worst case scenario? It becomes resistant to tamiflu, which wouldnt be great, but since hardly anyone in the US is being given tamiflu out of the several million suspected cases they have had already, with only 30 deaths or so, most in previously ill people, its really nothing to be incredibly worried about. Right now its weaker than regular seasonal flu. And scientists cant see it getting any worse, it pretty much cant. The media have made the biggest crisis out of this as they can, and im sick of hearing two bit "experts" instead of the scientists who actually know about the virus.

    Just my two cents, and Fergus why arent you pointing these things out? I see a lot of very scary headlines and very repetitive trivial news, but not too much in the way of facts... Im baffled by the media response and the lack of widespread knowledge that this virus doesnt have the qualities necessary to become a mass killer.

    P.S sorry for posting this twice in two different articles on your blog i just feel people need to read something positive for once and this seems like the most lively discussion on the issue.

    Complain about this comment

  • 39. At 5:47pm on 12 Jun 2009, MajorGallagher wrote:

    cogitodexter posed the same question I have wondered about for some time: why is the reporting not discussing how many people have now recoved from swine flu?

    Also: Reports state that only a third of those exposed to swine flu will actually become ill so why then did almost all of the Rangers fans on the bus become ill? Clearly many more than a third!

    Also, I read some time ago that people shouldn't take Tamiflu unless they were prescribed it as "it couldn't be taken again", yet it is being handed out as a precaution to schoolchildren who are not showing any symptoms. Is this not dangerous as they could becone infected some months from now and Tamiflu would be ineffective?

    Complain about this comment

  • 40. At 7:59pm on 12 Jun 2009, missmozartfan wrote:

    In response to the question about my atypical symptoms, I am only too happy to divulge. I did NOT have the cold, cough, sore throat or sneezing. My main symptom was total exhaustion. I almost dropped off to sleep whilst driving to work on two mornings before I worked out that work and driving were not good ideas. And that was after early nights and 8 hours sleep. I had headaches, nausea and temperature, but these were not severe.

    I did the on-line symptom checker -the swine flu leaflet arrived whilst I was in bed resting (with my laptop, as I am this evening). The conclusion was that I had hay fever. And this was true, but clearly only part of the story.

    So I think that some people could have a mild dose of swine flu without knowing. Just feeling extra tired for a week or so might be all that some people notice. But of course they are still infectious and can pass it on....

    I wasn't given any anti-viral treatment, as it was deemed to be to late to help by the time my swab results came in . I wonder if they could have shortened the illness and prevented this appalling postviral illness which is getting no better at all yet?

    Complain about this comment

  • 41. At 8:17pm on 12 Jun 2009, SkylineOnFire wrote:

    Antiviral treatment has barely been given in the US, and the latest statistics out of new york indicate half a million cases in the month of may alone.... thats a conservative estimate. with only 30 deaths, its less virluent than seasonal flu.

    Complain about this comment

  • 42. At 10:26pm on 12 Jun 2009, JamesJester wrote:

    Not that I am cynical in any way, but how long is it going to take people to realise that the WHO are only in it for the money. I wonder how many members of the WHO are major shareholders or have strategic roles within the large global pharmaceutical companies............what a great way to stimulate sales!!

    Complain about this comment

  • 43. At 8:34pm on 13 Jun 2009, happyyorkshiremum wrote:

    peterankin

    Croydon is not the only place to use the germ ridden sign in system. We have one here in Wakefield too and neither I or my husband will use it regardless of swine flu. As your blog shows, hospitals ask you to gel your hands on arrival and on leaving to minimise germs so why are GPs asking us to pass on whatever we have gone in there with?!

    Complain about this comment

  • 44. At 10:52am on 14 Jun 2009, honestlilyann wrote:

    Fergus, please can you post on your blog about vaccine production in the uk.. try and give us some hope.

    Also can you suggest to the health secretary that as all hospitals have hand gel as you enter i think all schools, offices and supermarkets should too, as we then know for definate we are trying to control spread. mabey even summer holidays abroad should be stopped until vaccines are made.

    please reply

    Complain about this comment

  • 45. At 6:28pm on 14 Jun 2009, MajorGallagher wrote:

    honestlilyann: I'll be very interested to read what Fergus has to say in reply to your post above.

    However, as I understand it, thoughts are already turning to moving past the stage of trying to contain the virus. As people were allowed to travel to and from Mexico City I don't see there is any chance of "summer holidays abroad being stopped"! Also on this point; let's also try and keep it in perspective - on a global scale very few people have died.

    Complain about this comment

  • 46. At 11:20pm on 14 Jun 2009, D_I wrote:

    It's going to be a crappy autumn... I'll have to make the missus breakfast in bed while she recovers.... doubt I'll get the same...

    Complain about this comment

  • 47. At 9:27pm on 15 Jun 2009, JukeJohn wrote:

    Skyline...

    Thank you for some sane, accurate data at last. Pity the MSM can't be bothered to do the research - I guess they prefer the mas hysteria scare tactics as it sells more paper

    Complain about this comment

View these comments in RSS

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.