Swine flu: FAQs
All you need to know about the A/H1N1 pandemic
- By: Rebecca Coombes, Adrian O’Dowd
The term pandemic relates to the virus’s geographical spread rather than its severity. A flu pandemic is an ongoing worldwide epidemic caused by a novel influenza virus that infects a large proportion of people who lack immunity to that virus. It is at this point that the World Health Organization raises its alert level to 6, as it did on 11 June 2009. The three flu pandemics of the 20th century were in 1918, 1957, and 1968.
The BMA has criticised the government for raising people’s fears unnecessarily and has emphasised that, for most people, flu A/H1N1 is not serious and can be managed with self care at home. Perspective is important: seasonal flu usually kills 8000-9000 people a year, although in 1999-2000 there were 19 000 deaths related to flu.
The national director for NHS flu resilience, Ian Dalton, says that NHS organisations should use the department’s new