Swine flu arrives in Britain
HEALTH experts last night urged Merseysiders not to panic about global outbreaks of swine flu.
Representatives from The Health Protection Agency said travellers returning from affected countries should be aware of symptoms, but do not need to worry.
So far the nearest suspected case is in Sale
, Greater Manchester, where an overseas visitor was being tested last night.
Dr Alan Radford, senior lecturer in infectious diseases at Liverpool Veterinary School, said: "Infectious viruses have a long History
of being transmitted from one species to another. When they do that, they tend to be more explosive.
"The World Health Organisation has a sliding scale of seriousness from one to six, and at the moment we are in the middle at number three.
"So while we are in a difficult situation and people should be a little bit concerned, they can also take some confidence that the UK and the world in general have a programme in place on how to respond to infectious viruses.
"This includes the stockpiling of antiviral drugs that can treat the disease.
"But it will be a rapidly changing situation and we should know more in the next few days about how the virus is transmitted, and how far it is spread."
Prof Malcolm Bennett, co- director for the National Centre for Zoonosis, at the University of Liverpool, said: "At the moment, people do not need to be too concerned.
In the medium term, nobody really knows because it’s in an early stage of the outbreak. It may be that it will disappear because we are at the end of the influenza season. But we just have to keep watching it.
"If it spreads and spreads then everyone needs to be far more worried."
Swine influenza is a respiratory disease normally found in pigs. It is suspected to have killed more than 100 people in Mexico, with cases also reported in the USA, Canada and Spain.
Antiviral drugs can effectively prevent and treat the infection, and most reported cases outside of Mexico have recovered fully without the need for medical attention.
But the UN has warned that the virus has the potential to become a pandemic.
Liverpool’s executive member for health, care and safeguarding Cllr Ron Gould, a professional pharmacist, said: "There will undoubtedly be concerns about swine flu.
"A lot of people go to Mexico on holiday from this area, but if they're not showing any symptoms that's fine, but we’ve got drugs including Relenza and Tamiflu.
"One works on the effects of the disease and the other tries to stop it spreading. But it seems the problem with this particular flu is it affects healthy people in the age range 15 to 45 and attacks the immune system."
"People should ring their doctor first or contact NHS Direct, but if they really feel ill they should go to A and E.Spokesperson for the HPA in Merseyside, Hugh Lamont, added: "People visiting these countries should be aware of the symptoms and if they experience them they should seek medical help.
"People coming back should monitor their health and call their GP or NHS Direct for a phone consultation if they start to develop flu symptoms." THE DAILY POST