Since being declared a pandemic earlier this month, swine flu has continued to cause concern for many people across the world, not least those in high risk groups such as people with diabetes.
Now renamed influenza A(H1N1), swine flu is a respiratory disease that could lead to complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia. It has some elements of a virus found in pigs but cannot be transferred from pigs to humans. Swine flu has now been confirmed in a number of countries and is spreading from human to human by droplet infection when sneezing or coughing. The number of new confirmed cases is rising steadily.
Everyone could be at risk
Influenza A(H1N1) is a new virus, so the flu vaccination given each year does not give protection. Everyone could be at risk of catching it, including previously healthy adults. Stocks of antivirals are being increased and are effective if taken within 24 hours of symptoms developing.
How to protect yourself
The best way to protect yourself and stop the spread of the disease is by using and disposing of tissues when sneezing or coughing and washing your hands as soon as possible afterwards.
The Department of Health has been encouraging people to 'catch it, bin it, kill it'. Also try to avoid close contact with people who appear unwell and who have fever and cough. Face masks don’t protect people from becoming infected.
Swine flu management more difficult for people with diabetes
"People with diabetes are a high risk group when it comes to managing the flu," said Caroline Butler, Care Advisor at Diabetes UK.
"Having flu can really upset diabetes control and cause blood glucose levels to fluctuate. This can leave people with diabetes open to many health problems, including complications of flu such as pneumonia and bronchitis."
What should I do if I'm worried?
- flu-like symptoms, which include: runny nose, high temperature, aches and pains, sore throat
- recently returned from Mexico or another affected area, or been with someone who has.
TheDepartment of Healthhas put in place a helpline, 0800 1 513 513, where people can hear the latest information on swine flu.