Swine Flu – the novelty wears off…

It seems, despite all the publicity about the potential  pandemic, people are getting terribly blasé about it. That’s probably a mistake, even though, outside Mexico, it has been extremely undramatic.

In the pharmacy, yesterday, waiting for my monthly meds – which should have been delivered but the doctor’s surgery screwed up – a guy wandered in and asked for “something for flu”.

Instead of doing the sensible thing – sending the guy out with instructions to go home and phone his doctor – she engaged him in a discussion of the various products on offer. Whereupon we customers took several paces back!

The guy – dressed in urban camo and carrying a “mountaineer’s” rucksack (you could tell – it said so in large red letters!) – seemed to be a bit of a pillock, and was displaying no symptoms at all, not even a sniffle. He rejected almost everything on offer because he “had problems” with capsules (so if he gets swine flu, he’s buggered – Tamiflu comes in capsules).

I lost interest in his whining about what he could and couldn’t swallow  (look, if you’re sick just bloody well choke it down and stop whingeing**), but he eventually left with something. Trouble is, nothing you get over the counter will have much, if any, impact on flu in any form.

** When I was little, for some reason I wouldn’t take tablets, and I had them crushed into a spoonful of jam. For an adult there’s no excuse for such foolishness.

As for Tamiflu, that was granted its patent because it was shown to reduce flu symptoms slightly, and shorten the course of the illness by – and you’ll love this – a day! A whole day. Wow! Tamiflu’s success seems to be more down to publicity than to actual efficacy.

If you get flu – any flu – the procedure is simple. Stay away from people – all flu is highly contagious – go to bed if you like, keep your fluids up and take whatever you can get for the pain and temperature. OTC Co-codamol is as good as anything, or plain-vanilla Paracetamol or Aspirin. Buy own-brand products – there’s no point in paying more for branded drugs, they’re no better. And there’s little point in buying Ibuprofen, the OTC anti-inflammatory drug – it has little anti-pyretic (temperature-lowering), effect.

It goes without saying that, at present, you must report your flu to your doctor, who will arrange to have you tested for swine flu if it’s thought necessary.

One thing that baffles me, though, is that where schools have been closed because a few pupils have gone down with swine flu, the kids have been sent home and the schools closed. Which is fine, but where are all these kids, at least some of whom may be potentially infected? On the bloody streets, enjoying what they’re calling the “swine skive”! Am I the only one that sees this as just a tad short-sighted? OK, of the hundreds of kids in each school, most will be fine, but it only takes one… Update:- 14.00, May 7 On the news right now – one of those kids has just been diagnosed with swine flu and hospitalised . How many more, then, has s/he also infected? And how many more infected kids are out there? (NB: May 9 – 4 more kids from the same group now infected)

If there’s one single thing that will bring the pandemic down on our heads, it’s stupidity like this. They should all have been isolated, even if it meant setting up a dorm in the school gym.

On the other hand, a cull works for me – it’s not as if there’s any shortage of kids!

Finally, can we please stop calling it swine flu, because it isn’t. What it is, predominantly, is the human Type A, H1N1 flu virus, with elements of swine and avian flu. It should, more accurately – and this has happened in more sensible countries (we have a long history, in the UK, of giving things dumb names) – be called Mexican Flu. Mind you, I’m still surprised that some half-pissed tabloid hack hasn’t christened the whole sorry affair Swine Gate!