Two days ago Dr Chan, the director general of the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced the start of influenza pandemic ( 1 ). She has raised the level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 5 to phase 6 to reflect the geographic spread of the influenza virus (otherwise known as Swine Flu). Nearly 30,000 cases of the influenza virus has been confirmed in 74 countries, most of which has not been severe. Nevertheless 145 people have died and counting! More than 1,000 cases has been confirmed in the UK so far with no fatalities. We of cause want to keep it that way. Pharmacists and Pharmacy staff have important roles to play in educating the public. We have collated a series of useful information which we believe might support the pharmacist in educating the public.

  Original Source Version on our server
Background info about Swine Flu Link Link
Latest updates Link  
Key Messages about Swine Flu incl. link to flu symptoms checker. Link  

Table 1: Useful info – As much as possible view the data from the original source as these will be more upto date.

The key messages remain the same:

  • Stay at home
  • Check your symproms using the special flu checker
  • If still concerned, call your GP or NHS Direct on 0845 4647

Clearly the designation of the influenza pandemic to phase 6 indicates a greater geographic reach. When this is combined with the ease of travel, it means that you are now more likely to come into contact with the virus wherever you go in the world. That said, more emphasis and attention must be paid to those countries with confirmed cases of Swine Flu. Below is the link to the up to date graphics of the spread from WHO.

Click HERE to view the Geographic Spread of the Virus

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of GB has issued some guideline on Swine Flu ( 2 ) and details some important legislative changes. It is probably a good time to review the Service continuity planning for Pandemic Flu ( 3 ).

So when someone comes into the Pharmacy who has been to any of the high risk areas and develop flu symptoms within 7 days of return, Or have had contact with someone with a confirmed or probable case of swine flu; we must not panic. We can advise them to implement Catch it, Bin it and Kill it ( 4 ). Then ask them to return home and call NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or the Swine Flu information Line on 0800 1 513 513. If members of your team develops symptoms of flu subsequently, then they must follow the same protocol.

You will find updates for your region on the Health Protection Agency (HPA) Website ( 5 ).

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Health Protection Unit ( 6 )

The main message is don’t panic, follow the simple instruction and isolate any suspected cases. The winter months will represent our greatest challenge.

Good Luck.