The Department of Health (DH) has issued an information leaflet on swine flu and launched a television advertising campaign to give people advice on how to prevent the disease from spreading.
Swine flu is a respiratory disease and has some elements of a virus found in pigs. Swine flu has now been confirmed in a number of countries and it is spreading from human to human, which could lead to what is known as a pandemic flu outbreak.
Pandemic flu is different from ordinary flu because it’s a new flu virus that appears in humans and spreads very quickly from person to person.
Everyone could be at risk
Swine flu is a new virus, so the flu vaccination given each year does not give protection. Everyone could be at risk of catching it.
Stocks of antivirals are being increased and are effective if taken within 24 hours of symptoms developing.
How to protect yourself
Face masks don’t protect people from becoming infected. The best way to protect yourself and stop the spread of the disease is by using and disposing of tissues and washing your hands.
People with diabetes at higher risk of flu
"People with diabetes are a high risk group when it comes to getting 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?
Stay at home and contact your GP or NHS Direct on 0845 4647 - or NHS 24 in Scotland on 08454 24 24 24 - as soon as possible if you have:
- flu-like symptoms, which include: runny nose, high temperature, aches and pains, sore throat
- recently returned from Mexico or another another affected area, or been with someone who has.
The Department of Health has put in place a helpline, 0800 1 513 513, where people can hear the latest information on swine flu.
You can download the DH information leaflet by visiting theDH website.
To get more online information on swine flu, visit the UK Government website.