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'Swine' Flu Update

During the half term holiday, many pupils and parents may travel overseas, either making their way to their home country or for holidays. As promised at an earlier stage, we would like to offer the following advice in the light of the H1N1 Influenza outbreak, commonly known as "Swine Flu". The advice is largely drawn from the Health Protection Agency and further information can be found on their website.

The principal countries affected by Swine Flu are the USA, Mexico, Canada, Japan, Spain and the UK. In the USA and Mexico, there are over 3000 reported cases; in Canada, just under 500 while in each of the other three countries there are around 100 cases on record. Only in Mexico (66), the USA (4) and Canada (1) have deaths been recorded.

Symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of seasonal flu, usually a feverish illness accompanied by one or more of cough, sore throat, headache and muscle aches. For most people this illness appears to be mild and is treatable with appropriate anti-viral drugs.

If pupils have recently visited one of the countries or areas where human cases of influenza have been identified, the HPA advice is that they should monitor their health closely for seven days after the visit to the affected area. There is no need for them to isolate themselves from other people as long as they remain well.

If during this period they develop a feverish illness accompanied by one or more of cough, sore throat, headache and muscle aches, they should contact the Health Centre (if a boarder) or their local GP (if a day pupil) and tell those from whom advice is being sought about the visit to an affected area of the world. Depending on the symptoms pupils may be advised that further investigations are necessary, which may include admission to hospital. In most cases however, they will be well enough to remain at home. It is important for them to avoid contact with other people as much as possible until the results of the tests are known. The pupil’s family and close friends should also monitor their health and follow the above advice if they develop symptoms.

At this time of important public examinations, we would ask parents to be especially careful about monitoring their children’s health before they return them to school. Any parent whose son or daughter shows the symptoms outlined above – raised temperature, headache, sore throat, coughing and sneezing – should not return them to school without contacting the Health Centre beforehand.