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Swine flu containment no longer feasible

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The prevalence of swine flu in some parts of the country means that the Government is abandoning attempts to contain the virus and is instead moving towards a policy of outbreak management.

The number of cases in London and the West Midlands is sufficiently high enough for people with swine flu to be clinically diagnosed rather than have the virus confirmed by laboratory reports.

In order to keep track of the strength of the virus, swabbing will now only take place in a small number of cases. And doctors have been advised to use the drug Tamiflu more selectively by targeting only those people with symptoms.

The result of this is that those who have come into contact with somebody suffering from swine flu will probably no longer be given the drug as a precaution.

However, chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson was quick to point out that many parts of the country were still in the containment phase and people were being treated prophylactically.

But the Government had not envisaged that a policy of containment would last forever, Sir Liam said.

The three stages of swine flu management:

Containment: People with swine flu have their diagnosis confirmed by lab reports. They and anyone in contact with them are given Tamiflu.

Outbreak management: People are diagnosed without the need for lab confirmation, and are given Tamiflu. People who have come into contact with a swine flu victim are unlikely to receive Tamiflu as a precaution.

Treatment: The detail of this phase is still being worked out. The Government envisages that not everybody with swine flu will receive Tamiflu, which may be reserved for at-risk groups. Tracing of contacts and treating people as a precaution stops.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • One issue that is reported to be causing confusion amongst members of the public, and health professionals alike, is that different parts of the UK appear to be adopting different approaches depending on their local incidence. Hopefully, a "UK" Government policy will ensure consistency across the country and less confusion.

    Gary Porter-Jones
    (Note: this is my personal opinion)

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