Swine flu – basic hygiene measures substantially reduces risk of infection

Swine Flu is suddenly in most people’s minds, as experts try and monitor the risk of a worldwide pandemic. So far, the information which has come to light indicates that the H1N1 strain carries a lower risk of fatality and serious long term illness than bird flu for example, as to be caught, it requires direct contact with infected humans. However, it is still early days and new information on the virus is emerging all the time as genetic tests are carried out. One thing is for sure, basic hygiene will substantially reduce your risk of catching this flu virus, wherever you live.

In a world where cheap air travel is readily available, viruses such as these have the potential to spread more quickly. Reducing air travel in and out of Mexico and enhanced screening at airports are likely to have little or no effect preventing the spread of the virus, as symptoms of swine flu are often not apparent until later. Indeed, to be accurately diagnosed, specific laboratory tests are usually required to identify the strain of flu virus which has been caught.

Debbie Purser, CEO at April International UK said, “If people do find themselves falling ill abroad and are worried, it is vital they go to a local doctor and ask for tests. This kind of process is routine and will be covered by most international medical insurance policies.”

Experts think there have been no deaths outside of Mexico, because it would appear those infected have sought medical care in the later stages of the virus. Those who gain treatment in the early stages are able to use two drugs, namely Tamiflu and Rilenza, which seem to treat the virus effectively. The initial symptoms of Swine Flu are similar to normal flu, namely a fever, cough, sore throat, aches, chills and fatigue.

Leading international private medical insurance provider April International UK recommends adopting the following personal hygiene rules in order to minimise your risk of infection – whether for Swine Flu or any other infection.

• Wash hands regularly with soap
• Try to avoid touching your face with your hands, unless clean
• Blow your nose into a clean tissue and dispose of it immediately
• Clean hard surfaces such as door handles regularly
• Seek medical attention initially by telephoning your doctor if you start to show flu symptoms

Commenting on the latest outbreak, Debbie Purser continues:” It’s still early days as experts try and determine just how much of a threat Swine Flu poses to the general population. As we move into summer in Europe at least, flu numbers will be relatively low when compared to the autumn. Treatments do exist and these have been shown to be effective, but it is likely that some people living and working in remote parts of the world may need to be evacuated to access the correct medical care. April International UK patients are fully covered at all levels in treating this illness, and in the meantime we would recommend people be vigilant in their basic hygiene to try and minimise the risk of infection.”