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First Swine Flu death of healthy man in Basildon, Essex

Latest death in Essex, news and all about Swine Flu

First swine flu death of healthy man in Basildon, Essex

On Saturday, we saw the news in the Daily Mail that the first healthy person has died of Swine Flu. Since it hasn’t been high in the media lately, it is easy to forget about this awful virus. I also found it a little disturbing that he came from Essex and he died in Basildon Hospital, which is only 5 miles from where I live. I have heard so many people coughing and sneezing lately, that it is a little worrying, since it is the Summer, and there are not usually so many of these symptoms about. I get a little annoyed when I see people coughing and sneezing and not covering their mouth – it is common decency and preventative behaviour to cover your mouth and use disposable tissues, which should be disposed of properly.

With all this in mind, it will not stop me going out or living normally – I think that panic does not help situations like this – but being careful does!

The news was released on Friday night. It is believed that this is the first case of death from the virus outside of the Americas, where the outbreak started.

A spokesman for the East of England strategic health authority said on Friday “We have today confirmed that a patient with swine flu (H1N1) has died”. He had died at the Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

He was a man in his thirties, with no underlying health issues, and is the 15th person to die of swine flu in Britain. The number of people who have contracted the disease is thought to be at least 9,700. Of those, most are under the age of 20 with the majority being in the 5 – 14 age group. The number of confirmed cases in Britain is the 3rd highest in the World, just behind Mexico, with the United States having the most. This is worrying news.

Treatment mode

Health Secretary Andy Burnham had moved the Country on to treatment mode only a week before. Treatment mode means those with flu symptoms will be encouraged to quarantine themselves at home and get a friend to pick up the anti-viral drugs for them.

The Department of Health said “We urge everyone to practise good respiratory and hand hygiene, to be aware of the symptoms of swine flu and to call the Swine Flu information line on 0800 1 513 513 or visit the NHS choices website if they are concerned”

Will Swine Flu shut small firms down?

Contingency plans have been drawn up by Ministers, to allow swine flu victims to take two weeks off work without a sick not, if the pandemic becomes serious. This would double the one week sick leave that is currently allowed without a sick note. Employers said that the move could drive small businesses to the wall. I cannot help but think that these people have not thought out the facts of what could happen if they allowed a person with swine flu to go into work – that is the last thing we would want isn’t it, as it would help it spread???

However, small firms accused the Government of over reacting, as it will allow certain workers to take ‘swine flu sickies’ costing the struggling economy billions. Professor Sayeed Khan, chief medical adviser at Manufacturer’s body the EEP said that is was inevitable that employees would abuse the extended sick leave and their employers could do nothing about it.

Visitors and patients of the Hospital are very angry

The family of the man who died on Friday have asked for no more details of their relative to be released. However, visitors to the Hospital and patients staying there at the moment are very shocked and angry that they had not been warned of his death or disease or who he was. They said that they found out about it in the news or in newspapers, as the Hospital did not alert them.

How can we stop the virus spreading?

We can reduce the risk of catching or spreading swine flu.

• Catch it – cover the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing

• Bin it – dispose of used tissues quickly and carefully

• Kill it – Wash hands frequently and practise good basic hygiene. Also clean hard surfaces with cleaning products

What next?

Health officials in the East of England said that Anti-viral drugs like Tamiflu will be offered to everyone with confirmed swine flu.

Apparently, Health chiefs are preparing to vaccinate the entire population against swine flu, but is this too late? High risk groups would be given immunity first, followed by everyone else. With 60 million people to deal with, this is a huge project and I look forward to hearing more news about this. If the virus does mutate at least we would have immunity to it.

Sir Liam Donaldson (England’s Chief Medical Officer) said “This death underlines that, although the virus is proving generally mild in most people, it is more severe in some cases. As with all flu-like viruses, some people are at higher risk than others. Unfortunately, people who are otherwise healthy could also become seriously ill, or sadly die”

Other deadly flu pandemics

All three deadly flu pandemics of the 20th Century all affected normally healthy patients rather than the sick and elderly. In the worst pandemic – the Spanish flu of 1918-19, 100 million people died. They were mainly healthy young people.

About Swine Flu

Please be very careful and think of others. If you think you have ANY of the symptoms of swine flu, please stay at home until you are sure you don’t have it. The virus could be spread much more quickly if we are in contact with others whilst we have swine flu.

According to the Health Protection Agency, the incubation period for swine flu (time between infection and appearance of symptoms) can be up to seven days, but is most likely to be between two and five days. It is, however, too early to be able to provide details on virus characteristics, including incubation period, with absolute certainty at this time (As shown on the NHS website here: http://www.nhs.uk/chq/pages/3085.aspx  )

Symptoms, High risk groups and complications – as taken from the NHS website page here: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Pandemic-flu/Pages/Symptoms.aspx

Symptoms

The symptoms of swine flu are broadly the same as those of ordinary flu, but may be more severe and cause more serious complications.

The typical symptoms are:

• sudden fever, and

• sudden cough.

Other symptoms may include:

• headache,

• tiredness,

• chills,

• aching muscles,

• limb or joint pain,

• diarrhoea or stomach upset,

• sore throat,

• runny nose,

• sneezing, and

• loss of appetite.

Most people who have contracted swine flu recover within a week and do not suffer complications, even without being given antiviral medication.

However, experts point out that as this is a new virus, its behaviour cannot be predicted with certainty.

Swine flu is different from seasonal flu in that most serious illnesses have been in younger age groups, as happened in all three 20th-century influenza pandemics.

A doctor faced with a symptomatic patient cannot yet predict with certainty the course of their illness and whether or not they will be in the small proportion who may become more seriously ill.

This is why antiviral medication is still being given to all those with swine flu in the UK, subject to their doctor’s discretion.

High-risk groups

Some groups of people are more at risk of serious illness if they catch swine flu, and will need to start taking antiviral medication as soon as they are confirmed with the illness.

Scientists are still learning more about the risk profile of the virus, but it is already known that the following people are particularly susceptible:

• people with:

– chronic lung disease,

– chronic heart disease,

– chronic kidney disease,

– chronic liver disease,

– chronic neurological disease,

– immunosuppression (whether caused by

disease or treatment) and

– diabetes mellitus,

• patients who have had drug treatment for

asthma within the past three years,

• pregnant women,

• people aged 65 years and older, and

• young children under five years old.

It is vital that people in these higher-risk groups who catch swine flu get antivirals and start taking them as soon as possible.

Complications

For most people, the illness appears to be mild and self-limiting. Cases have been confirmed in all age groups, but children and younger people seem much more likely to be affected, whereas fewer cases have been confirmed to date in older adults.

For a minority of people, the virus has caused severe illness. In many, but not all, of these cases underlying risk factors have been identified that are likely to have contributed to the severity of the condition.

Worldwide, just over 0.4% of the laboratory-confirmed cases reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) have died, which would be a rate consistent with that normally observed with seasonal influenza. However, the true number of swine flu cases is likely to be significantly higher than that reported to WHO and therefore the figure of 0.4% is likely to be an overestimate of the death rate.

Where complications do occur, they tend to be caused by the virus affecting the lungs. Infections such as pneumonia can develop.

For more information, see the Government website here: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Swineflu/DG_177831  There is a symptom checker on there to help you decide if you or someone you know has the virus.

What do you think?

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