Friday, 15 January 2010

Last writes

Swine flu has come to an end in Britain - official. The health authorities have decided that swine flu figures in the UK are now so low that they are stopping their weekly briefings. So it seems an appropriate time to draw this swine flu blog to an end. It has been amazingly popular - easily the biggest 'hit' on our website over the last six months so thank you to all those who have tuned in to my daily rantings. We've raged against the lack of information, laughed at the miracle cures, marvelled at the good work of the health professionals and spared a thought for those families who have suffered the tragic deaths from swine flu. If a third wave does hit, I'll be back. But in the mean time, I wish you good luck and good health - Alan Cleaver.  (P.S. Do join me on my other daily blog, Copeland Crack).

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

A good luck virus anyone?

Watch out for Horizon on BBC2 tonight (Wednesday) at 9pm. It's all about viruses, specifically H1N1 and why some of them turn into killers - makes a great follow-up to remake of apocalyptic TV series Survivors on TV last night! One wonders if they'll also consider any 'good' viruses. Who can forget the superb Red Dwarf episode that postulated that positive viruses might exist, such as the 'good luck' virus. Now a pandemic of that virus would make a nice change!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Wacky headlines reprise

Just when I thought my collection of wacky swine flu headlines was complete, The Australian kindly supplies a new one which I rather like: Regrets? We've had a flu... Very clever! For those who missed my previous collected headlines:-
• ‘Swine Flu Pope’ under investigation for gross conflict of interest
• No Swine Flu deaths in Botswana
• Canadian Aboriginals get body bags after asking government for swine flu help
• Is St Thérèse of Lisieux spreading swine flu?
• Prisoners Got Drunk On Swine Flu Gel
• Now they want to ban handshakes

Monday, 11 January 2010

A personal query

One personal query: I've still not been called for my swine flu vaccine jab (I'm slightly asthmatic). If there are all these millions of swine flu jabs lying around doing nothing, can I now have mine?! And can anyone else who, like me, still worries about swine flu, now go and get a jab?

I bet you're all wondering what happened to Sunday's swine flu blog?! Sorry, I simply 'forgot' after a rather busy day photographic an iced over Derwentwater

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Riddle of rise in deaths

Everyone is so excited about the decline in swine flu that the astonishing jump in deaths in England last week almost went unnoticed. The weekly UK death toll jumped from 300 to 355 (most of those in England). The Times had this to say: "Sir Liam Donaldson said that this did not mean the virus was getting worse. 'I don’t think you can read into the apparently larger increase any particular trend or worsening of the situation,' he said. 'It is just that we are still continuing to see deaths broadly at the rate we have been seeing them.' He added that there had been a “striking increase” in the number of over-65s being admitted to critical care in hospital." Pensioners have traditionally been all but immune to swine flu so this is a worrying announcement. One to keep an eye on.
And having asked a couple of days ago about the cost of all the stock-piled swine flu vaccine we may not be using now, many papers today have picked up on that (well, I'm sure they'd have thought of it on their own!). The total cost of swine flu could be one billion pounds. Terrifying.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Don't forget meningitis

With swine flu on the back burner at the moment, it's timely to just pass on a warning about meningitis which rears its ugly head during the winter months. In fact, nearly 60% of the most serious bacterial types occur between October and March, and although the disease affects all ages, over half of those cases will be in children under 5. Fighting common infections like colds and flu weakens people’s immune systems, leaving them more vulnerable to meningitis. People are also at increased risk as in winter they tend to spend more time indoors and in closer proximity to others, which means germs are spread more easily. With the current cold snap set to continue, more people will be spending time trapped indoors, trying to keep warm, which could potentially mean a higher risk of the disease.

Sue Davie, Chief Executive of the Meningitis Trust, says; “Meningitis is a disease that strikes quickly and can kill, if left untreated, in just a few hours. With experts suggesting that the bad weather could continue for a few weeks, we are urging people to remain vigilant to the symptoms. Worryingly, the symptoms can easily look like other, more common conditions, such as flu or swine flu. But, it’s important to err on the side of caution, be aware of the signs and symptoms of meningitis, and seek medical attention as a matter of urgency if you suspect the disease.”

Common signs and symptoms include fever (possibly with cold hands and feet), vomiting, headache, stiff neck, dislike of bright lights, joint or muscle pain, drowsiness, confusion and, also, in babies, dislike of being handled, pale blotchy skin, unusual cry, and a blank staring expression. Both adults and children may have a rash (septicaemia) that doesn’t fade under pressure. Symptoms can appear in any order and some may not appear at all. Rapid deterioration will take hold if left untreated.

Visit or call the 24-hour helpline, staffed by nurses, on 0800 028 18 28 to get a full list of symptoms.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Nostradamus and all that

Did Nostradamus prophecy swine flu? Zazzle certainly think so as they're selling T-Shirts with his "When Pigs Fly" prophecy printed on them. But in fact Nostradamus never said that and the phrase seems to have originated (rather worryingly) in swine flu capital Scotland some time after Nostradamus' death. But, hey, it's a great T-shirt. There were many doom-ridden predictions at the start of swine flu last year but before you start laughing at expectations of 40 deaths a day in Britain, it's worth remembering that millions may indeed have had swine flu as predicted in the UK - but a weaker than expected swine flu and vaccinations have reduced the number of deaths. And the usual winter flu deaths have been very low so it's good news all round.
  • My apologies for the technical glitches that (yet again!) saw my blog vanish yesterday. Hopefully we're back up and running now. Good job I keep a back-up!