Swine flu

At the height of the swine flu pandemic, three-year-old Sam from Epsom suddenly became unwell with a temperature of 39 degrees. His mum, Nicky, immediately suspected it was swine flu. Here she tells her story.

It was a Friday and I was off work. Sam got up at 7am and was his usual happy self as he ate his breakfast. We were due to meet up with some friends, who were bringing their new baby.

First symptoms

At about 9.30am Sam started crying and complaining he was tired. It was so unlike him. He wouldn’t get dressed and just wanted to sit on me. He looked pale and listless, felt really hot and was practically falling asleep on me. 

I took his temperature, which showed 38/39˚. It was so weird to see him running around one minute and then suddenly come over so hot and tired.

I was worried and a bit scared because I immediately suspected it was swine flu – but I also knew there was no need to panic or to rush to our GP surgery.

Swine flu in the headlines

It was at a time when everyone was talking and worrying about swine flu. The press had reported on a little girl dying from the illness, who seemed to have no underlying health problems.

There had been a lot of scaremongering, which was putting unnecessary pressure on resources. I can’t remember the press reporting on people getting it mildly; they just focused on the worst case scenarios.

Taking action

I immediately called my friends to cancel their visit – I didn’t want the baby coming anywhere near Sam, just in case.

At the time I didn’t know much about swine flu – I wasn’t sure what the symptoms were or how it progressed so I logged onto the NHS Direct website to see if Sam was showing the symptoms, and then called the helpline.

They suspected it was swine flu and advised me to contact my GP over the phone. Meanwhile Sam was falling asleep. He never sleeps at 10 in the morning!

Doctor’s advice

The GP asked us to avoid coming into the surgery. I was worried but I also completely understood that they didn’t want it to spread.

There was no way to be 100 per cent sure that Sam did have swine flu but the GP prescribed Tamiflu in liquid form and told me exactly what to do over the phone.

My husband came home from work to pick up the prescription from the chemists. We gave Sam the first dose straight away. Almost immediately he seemed to perk up a little bit.

Over the next few days Sam slept lots and we gave him plenty of fluids.

Protecting your family and friends from swine flu

I knew that I was likely to get swine flu too, but I wasn’t worried about that at all. I was just focused on looking after Sam.

My mum and dad were due to visit but we cancelled and I made sure we didn’t have contact with family and friends for a few days.

It’s so important to take precautions – I’d really recommend carrying an anti-bacterial spray or hand wash at all times. Try to clean your and your children’s hands as much as possible when you’re out and about.

Be prepared

It’s also a good idea to find out what the symptoms of swine flu are so that you can act quickly if you suspect your child has come down with it.

Find out who you need to contact and what you need to do. Try not to go rushing to your doctor’s surgery and, most importantly, keep calm.