Swine flu tryptic.qxd
People might wear a facemask to conceal respiratory symptoms rather than
What is Gibraltar doing about this?
The Civil Contingency Committee has been monitoring the events closely from the outset.
It is difficult to provide general advice on how to wear masks correctly and if
The following are some of the key actions taken:
not worn properly they may not provide any protection.
Face masks must be changed frequently, which people do not often do.
Invoking the Gibraltar Pandemic Plan:
Gibraltar has a systematic response plan
People who have to buy their masks are less likely to change them regularly.
involving all the key services, which have been put on appropriate levels of alert.
Facemasks must be disposed of properly if they are not to pose a risk to other
Stockpiling of essential drugs:
The Government has procured a large stockpile of
essential drugs, to a quantity larger than generally recommended.
Failing to wash hands after taking off a facemask might increase the risk of
Stockpiling of protective equipment:
At present the infection does not seem to
warrant high levels of personal protection for staff, but stocks have been obtained just
Reusing a face mask will render it ineffective and increase the risk of self-
a Phone Helpline for the benefit of travellers returning from affected areas
Contact with infectious persons in public areas would be random and
unpredictable and masks might be worn for prolonged periods.
A Press Release and a Public Health Advisory have been issued,
followed by this Public Health Educational leaflet. Through the Press, TV and other
The quality of the mask may be unpredictable.
media, the Civil Contingency Committee intends to keep the public fully informed.
It has been found that most people simply pull off the mask when they feel
So what is the final word?
a sneeze coming … which completely defeats the object!
A new form of flu has emerged in the Americas and has infected people in several countries.
It is more rational for healthcare workers to wear masks when they work directly with
Most cases have been mild, but Mexico has had more serious cases and several deaths. Its
infected persons and body fluids. Their use is governed by rules and procedures for
spread appears to be facilitated by international travel. There is much international
wearing, removing, disposing and washing, for which they receive training and are
excitement and worry that it might turn into a pandemic, like the Spanish flu, nearly a
century ago, but it is too soon to tell just yet, if it will go that far at all.
Is it safe to eat pork or pork products?
In the meantime, as a responsible society, we have taken all the possible precautions to
protect ourselves against the worst case and for the present, it is a matter of getting on
Yes. Swine flu viruses are not known to be transmitted by food. There is no risk of
with our lives while keeping a watchful eye on developments far away that might just impact
catching the illness from eating properly handled and cooked pork or pork products.
What about Bird Flu (avian influenza)? Has it gone away?
Avian influenza is caused by influenza viruses adapted for infection in birds - just as
swine influenza is caused by influenza viruses adapted for infection in pigs. Avian flu
emerged as a human infection of serious significance three years ago and spreading to
several countries, affecting thousands of persons and with around two hundred deaths.
Since then, numbers of new cases have reduced.
It still remains a threat, but perhaps a more distant one at present.
Is Swine Flu going to be the next pandemic?
It is too early to say whether the cases seen so far will lead to a larger outbreak or
could represent the appearance of potential pandemic strain of influenza virus.
The World Health Organization usually leads on this matter. Gibraltar's public health
team and the Civil Contingency Committee continue to keep vigilant on developments.
What is Swine Flu ?
Is treatment available?
Can't I get vaccinated?
Swine flu is a respiratory disease caused by a virus that has some elements of the virus that
Most of the previously reported swine influenza cases recovered fully from the disease
Unfortunately not, as there is no vaccine as yet against the swine flu, but major vaccine
causes influenza in pigs. Scientists are still investigating its origins.
without requiring medical attention and without antiviral medicines.
manufacturers are working on it. A vaccine could still be several months away. The
regular human vaccine does not give immunity and it is too early to tell if there will be
Infection with swine influenza virus has been detected occasionally in humans since the
At present, tests show that the virus is sensitive to some antiviral medicines (such as
1950s. Cases of swine influenza in humans have occurred after direct or close contact with
Tamiflu, which has had a lot of media coverage). However, in order to work, the medicines
infected pigs, but appear to be uncommon. The most recent published case was that of a
must be taken within 48 hours of the start of the symptoms, which is not always practicable.
What measures can I take to protect against infection?
pig breeder in Teruel, Spain last year. In the US there is an official swine influenza
surveillance programme to monitor pig viruses.
Am I at risk?
Prevention is always better than cure. When there is no vaccine, it is even more
important to observe preventive hygiene. Careful Respiratory Hygiene and Hand
How is the present outbreak different?
At present all cases appear to be associated with either travel to the affected areas or
Hygiene, along with good common sense can substantially help to reduce transmission
exposure to an individual who acquired the disease through travel. For all other persons,
of all viruses, including the swine flu virus.
A new swine flu has been confirmed in a number of countries and is spreading from human
the risk is negligible. This position may change if the disease spreads more widely, but at
to human, leading to sporadic outbreaks. This present outbreak appears to be caused by a
novel flu virus, one that has never been seen before.
If someone who has been to affected areas, what should they do?
The implication is that, because it is previously unknown, no one will have immunity to it
and everyone could be at risk of catching it. This includes healthy adults as well as older
First of all, there is no need to panic. Unless such a person is experiencing any flu-like
If a tissue is not handy, never cough or sneeze into your Hands (although this
people, young children and those with existing medical conditions.
symptoms, there is no need to do anything at all. Also such symptoms must arise within 7
habit has been taught to children for generations), but cough or sneeze into your
Upper Sleeve or some such washable garment.
However, if the virus shows some relationship to other previously known viruses, it is
possible that some people may be able to resist it, because of previous exposure. This is
However, if someone has recently travelled to an affected area and is experiencing flu-like
called cross-immunity. So far, we have no scientific evidence for this, but it may exist.
symptoms, such persons should stay at home to limit contact with others and seek medical
advice through the phone from the health service.
What is a Pandemic flu?
The Gibraltar Health Authority has set up a dedicated
A Pandemic is a name for several outbreaks in several countries at the same time caused
by the same germ. The World Health Organisation has declared that the Swine Flu
SWINE FLU HELPLINE 20044411
outbreaks have the potential to become a Pandemic.
exclusively for the use of persons who have travelled or who have been in contact with
What are the symptoms of swine influenza?
persons who have travelled to affected areas and have flu-like symptoms.
The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of "regular" human winter
What does the Helpline do?
flu infection. They include fever, fatigue, lack of appetite, coughing and sore throat. Some
people with swine flu have also reported vomiting and diarrhoea.
The Helpline is manned by trained health professional staff who will be able to assess the
caller's situation. They will then advise the caller whether it is safe to self-treat or whether
Is this swine flu virus contagious?
a visit by a doctor or other professional is required. If this is the case, the staff will also
After coughing or sneezing, dispose of the soiled tissue carefully and WASH YOUR
Yes. The virus is contagious (i.e., it can spread from person to person), although it is not
known how easily. Like other flu and flu-like illnesses, it spreads through the air and through
Please remember that the Helpline is only for advising travellers who have visited affected
Clean hard surfaces (e.g. door handles) frequently using a normal cleaning
droplets that emerge when we cough and sneeze. This is why it is important to cover our
areas and have flu-like symptoms. The Helpline is not an information source on swine flu or
mouths when we cough or sneeze, dispose of any soiled material quickly and wash our
for any other health service function. Use of the Helpline for other purposes will not be of
any benefit and may delay obtaining the correct information.
Make sure your children follow this advice.
How serious is it?
I have to receive a relative arriving soon from an affected area, what should I
Should I wear face masks?
We have very little information about its behaviour as yet, but what we have so far does
Wearing of facemasks does not confer any benefit to the general public. Available
not suggest that it is any more serious than the "regular" flu. As with any flu, a small
First of all, check if they have flu-like symptoms. Unless they do, there is no need to do
scientific evidence does not suggest this to be an effective preventative measure. On
proportion of people will have pneumonias or other complications, but the severity levels of
anything different. However, if they have flu-like symptoms, do not go to the airport or port
the other hand, there are several disadvantages that need to be considered:
this disease are still unclear. So far, most cases occurring outside Mexico have been mild.
to receive them. Advise them to go straight home and call the Swine Flu Helpline on
It encourages complacency. Wearing a face mask might discourage people
from carrying out good hand hygiene, which is far more important.
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Asthma and Environment Fact Sheet for Parents and Schools Healthy Schools Network, Inc. ∗ Asthma has reached epidemic proportions in the United States, affecting about 25 million people of all ages and races, including about 7 million children.1 ∗ Nearly one in 10 school-aged children has asthma, and the percentage of children with asthma is rising more rapidly in preschoo