Swine flu

Swine is another word for pigs. And swine flu is actually a type of flu which pigs get.

Who can get swine flu?

Anybody can catch swine flu. But a person can only catch it from someone who already has it.

If a child starts to feel unwell he or she should tell an adult as soon as possible.

What are the key warning signs?

The key sign that somebody might have swine flu is having a temperature of 38ºC (100.4ºF).

If a child starts to start to feel ill in anyway, he or she should ask their parents, teacher or school nurse to take their temperature straight away.

As well as having a temperature a child might have:

  • a cough
  • sore throat
  • aching body
  • headache
  • feel chilly
  • feel very tired
There might also get diarrhoea and vomiting.

How is swine flu diagnosed?

Usually when somebody feels ill they would go to the doctor. But if somebody thinks they have swine flu they should actually stay at home so other people don't catch it off you.
Instead of going to the doctor, they should ask their parents to get advice from a place called The National Pandemic Flu Service. You can visit the website or call 0800 1 513 100.

When somebody contacts the service, they will ask lots of questions about how they are feeling sot they can diagnose without seeing them.

How can swine flu be treated?

Swine flu can be treated by taking a special medicine called an antiviral. When a child is diagnosed by the flu service, they will be given a special number which their parent can take to a collection centre to get the medicine. The medicine is called Tamiflu.

If a child has swine flu they cannot go to school and should rest at home until they are completely better.

Is swine flu dangerous?

Anybody who has seen the news reports on swine flu will know that it is causing a lot of worry and panic. This is mainly because it is a new illness and so a lot of people do not know what to expect.

There has been a lot of talk about what might happen in the worst case. The word pandemic is often used.
It is a scary word but it is only a word which describes a lot of people in many countries catching the same thing. It does not mean the virus will kill a lot of people.

What about my future health?

Lots of very clever scientists are working on a special immunisation. The immunisation should be ready in a few weeks time and when people have it they will be protected from the bug.

People can stop themselves getting sick by:

  • Washing hands with soap and water after going to the toilet, when they come home from school and before eating.
  • Staying away from other sick people.
  • Using a tissue to sneeze or cough into.
  • Getting plenty of sleep.
  • Eating lots of fruits and vegetables to keep healthy.
  • Not drinking out of the same cup or sharing forks and spoons with other people.
Last review date:
August 2009