Out of hours medical staff on the Isle of Wight have appealed to residents and visitors on the Island to make use of the national Swine Flu advice services and to only call the Island Doctors line if they are actually unwell. The well publicised arrangements for the national advice services are:
- check online at www.nhs.uk
- telephone the National Flu Information Line on 0800 151 3513, or
- telephone NHS Direct on 0845 46 47
“There is comprehensive advice online including a symptom checker. If residents and visitors are still concerned they should ring the National Flu Line on 0800 151 3513 or NHS Direct on 0845 46 47,” says Head of Communications for NHS Isle of Wight, Andy Hollebon. “Those without online access should ring one of the two telephone numbers direct. Only if an individual is unwell should the Island’s out of hours medical services be contacted and it is important that those who are unwell stay at home. Unfortunately calls from those simply seeking advice are stopping those who are unwell from receiving a prompt service.”
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 (a high body temperature of over 38C or 100.4F), and
- sudden cough.
Other symptoms may include:
- 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. 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.
“Our advice is that the general public should remain calm, use the national advice lines and website and reduce the risk of spreading infections by following the Catch It, Bin It, Kill It campaign:” says Andy Hollebon. To stop the spread of the infection:
- using a tissue to cover your mouth when coughing and/or sneezing, disposing of the tissue promptly and then washing your hands
- washing hands frequently with soap and water, especially after coughing, sneezing and using tissues
- avoiding touching your mouth, eyes and nose unless you have recently cleaned your hands
- using normal household detergent and water to clean surfaces frequently touched by hands
- an alcohol hand rub, which kills the flu virus within 30 seconds could be used as an alternative for cleaning hands which are visibly clean.