Swine Flu hits home

Most of those who know us will know that the children have been ill this last week with what is now regulalry described as ‘flu like symptoms’. This seems to be medical code for – it looks like swine flu but we can’t really be sure because so many people have the same symptoms – cough, sore throat, temperature, runny nose – that we can’t test all of them. Therefore GP’s are assuming it’s swine flu and prescribing Tamiflu to those in high risk groups (in our case the children 5 and under – the 7 year old soldiered on).

So have our kids had it? Probably, almost certainly…

Have we? I’m not sure, to be honest, I feel ok, but I can’t see how I could have avoided being infected if in fact the kids have been…

What should we do? Well we don’t need to be quaranteened. The kids have made full recoveries bar the odd sniffle. My experience, and the advice given mirrors very closely that of another Blogger I follow – Adrian Warnock. He writes this:

We were asked to isolate our daughter for about a week. But, we were told that other members of the family could go about their daily business, even if they also developed a sore throat, as long as they did not get a fever. We were told we should ring the GP for more Tamiflu if anyone else developed a temperature.

So far, no other members of our family have developed a fever, though several are complaining of sore throats and feeling excessively tired. Since one of our daughters can’t go out, and the summer holidays have just started, we have this evening decided to try and make the best of it and have a lazy weekend in the house.

I did pop out today to Kentucky Fried Chicken to feed us all. I couldn’t help but feel a little guilty, however. It is very likely that my current mild sore throat is caused by the swine flu virus. Knowing that you might be risking infecting people with an illness that although very mild for the vast majority could at least potentially be fatal for a tiny minority feels odd. What is strange, however, is that I have never spared much thought about passing on "ordinary" flu which is just as much a potential killer, especially for the elderly.

Reflecting on the last week, it has been interesting to note the reactions of others. The medics we know – and St Giles has loads (we have a consultant in infectious diseases in the congregations as well as a GP and loads of consultants) – are pretty relaxed about the whole thing. They know the facts, the death rates, what kind of complicating factors to look out for, and what the contingencies are. Their advice – universally is – carry on with life as normally as you can, keep an eye on the temperatures, get the little ones on Tamiflu, this seems to be a mild flu, we will all get it at some stage, lucky you getting it early.

For those with kids,  understandably anxiety levels are much higher. There is a concern – have we been swabbed? What’s the diagnosis? Where did we get it from? And when will the kids be ‘released’ back into the wild. No doubt the media will continue relaying for weeks the ‘daily toll’ the virus takes, and this will add to the alarm. Though as one medic told me, all those figures really tell us is how widely the virus has spread, not how dangerous it is. Swine Flu is the first pandemic of the global media age and every new development soon hits the front pages unfortunately before we have time for reflection.

So how dangerous is it?

From the NHS Swine Flu Website:

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.

Emphasis mine

We need not be complacent, but at the moment, swine flu appears to be less dangerous than normal ‘seasonal flu’ which in particulalry bad years kills tens of thousands. For my part I’m glad we’ve had it, with relatively minor symptoms, and life goes on. If we’ve had it that is…

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