Swine flu in Scotland

There’s lots of it about, it seems: 160 cases in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, and all but 8 acquired it locally. And most are only mildly unwell.

Our locally issued guidelines have changed subtly too: testing was, until recently, limited to those who had particular risk factors for H1N1 (symptoms starting within seven days of travel to an area with sustained human-to-human transmission, or close contact with a confirmed case) plus symptoms of influenza.

Now the testing can be considered for anyone who has a flu-like illness, even though these cases are very unlikely to be H1N1, and are much more likely to be any one of the myriad usual viruses doing the rounds.

Life looks like it is going on locally much as normal and as far as I can see it is not people who are panicking but some quarters of the media. I suspect that antiviral drugs are less useful than rational information and action.

My concern is that with increasing cases panic will be induced – and I don’t envy the job of public health specialists having to address media misinformation and hype.

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