Swine flu need-to-know guide

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Model pig with a swine flu mask on
14th January 2011: The latest figures show that 112 people have died from flu (both swine flu and the other strains of flu around this year) since October.

Many parents have been particularly concerned this week after Dr Zana Ameen released pictures of his 3-year-old daughter, Lana, on a life support machine before dying after contracting swine flu.

See the pictures of Lana on the Daily Mail.

Experts are now urging parents to make sure that children with underlying health conditions to get the flu jab this year - although Lana didn't have any underlying conditions.

Experts are also reassuring people that the rise in deaths from flu isn't soaring, it's steady. It seems to have risen so much in the past week because it took a long time to confirm the cause of some of the deaths.

Get advice on protecting your children from flu

It's also been reported that some GP's surgeries have run out of the flu jab that protects against swine flu and other strains of seasonal flu.

But while that might sound scary, there's no reason to panic. Speaking on the BBC Dr Rosemary Leonard said that people who aren't in at risk groups don't need the jab, but those in at risk groups should try and get it: 'A lot [of the jab] is in private chemists and supermarkets and is being given to worried well and GPs are now in the situation where we have patients who ought to be getting it, but we can't get the supplies. So I would urge people, if they are worried well, not to have the vaccine.'

Back in December, Dr Leonard spoke on the BBC about swine flu and pointed out that people die from flu every year. She said that swine flu 'was always predicted to be the main flu virus this winter'.

She went on to say that swine flu is just like any other flu: 'For most people it's just a nasty illness that gives you cold, high temperature, you shiver and you shake, you have to go to bed for a few days and then you feel better.'

What is swine flu?

Swine flu is a type of flu (influenza). It usually affects pigs but it can also affect humans. The virus can be transmitted from human-to-human. Before spring 2009, the virus rarely passed from human-to-human.

A new strain of the swine influenza virus called influenza H1N1v emerged in Mexico in spring 2009. This new strain spreads easily from human-to-human. It has now spread to affect people in many countries, including the UK. When a strain of influenza spreads easily between humans and causes many cases in several countries, this is called a pandemic. In the winter of 2009/10 it reached a pandemic stage when many people were affected all over the world. Early in 2010 the number of new cases began to fall and in August the World Health Organisation announced that we are in post pandemic stages.

Help! I think I've got swine flu

Don't panic! Read this first: Have I got swine flu?. For most people, you'll just need to go to bed and you'll be better in a few days.

However, if you're pregnant or have an underlying health condition, you should call your GP - but you're advised not to go into the surgery.

Continued below...

Where to next?

- Swine flu early stages timeline
- Stock up on superfoods to beat the bugs this winter

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