Londonist Gets Swine Flu

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 106 months ago
Londonist Gets Swine Flu

Actually, it's more a case of 'Londonist gets flu-like symptoms and vague answers from the NHS', but that doesn't make for such a snappy headline. Yes, with cases across most of London at well over the baseline 30 per 100,000 (dear Havering: what's your secret?) it was probably inevitable that somebody at Londonist towers would come down with something approximating piggy flu. Although if we're honest, we initially mistook it for a hangover (albeit the worst hangover we've ever had in our lives). Once we figured out that, uh, a temperature's not normal for a hangover we followed NHS Direct advice, took some paracetamol and went to bed for a day. Despite terrifying headlines across the media, this really is most people's experience.

Cue leading microbiologist Professor Hugh Pennington in yesterday's Guardian, on the Department of Health's figures that up to 65,000 people could die in a worst case scenario (our emphasis):

"There are all sorts of imponderables, which mean these figures are meaningless... I'm surprised at the Department of Health putting out these figures in the way they have. I can understand them saying to emergency planners you have to be prepared but why are they going public in what seems like panic mode?"

Such panic mode makes it all the more likely that the new National Pandemic Flu Service, which should start up next week, will be drowning in calls. Staffed by volunteers, its purpose is to diagnose and authorise Tamiflu. Now, if our experience of talking to our actual, qualified, browbeaten and exhausted GP is anything to go by (we rang up purely for epidemiological reasons, honest; good public health statistics being vital in pandemics), pretty much anyone with "flu-like symptoms" is being diagnosed with swine flu and offered Tamiflu, even when said symptoms are mild, have been going on too long for Tamiflu to be effective (that's within two days of symptoms starting, antiviral fans) and only reduce illness duration by about a day. So we imagine that when volunteers start being screamed at by anyone who can use a telephone and read a list of symptoms off a website, Tamiflu will become as common as sweeties. Which, as a method of drug distribution, strikes us as only marginally more efficient than throwing boxes out of a helicopter.

Remind yourself of the at-risk groups for swine flu and Don't Panic!

Last Updated 19 July 2009

Jonn

Glad it's not just me. I rushed home from a drinks do at the Department of Health to acquire the other half some tamiflu - a feat that involved running to a hospital, then running to a chemists, all in 20 minutes, making me look like Anneka Rice has really let herself go.

Predicably I've got it now. On the upside, I was speaking to the public health minister mere moments before I got the call, so there's an outside chance I've infected the government.

Lindsey

Keep us posted Jonn & Rachel and get over it quick. Anyone else out there got it?

Elaine

I had it about two weeks ago. Phoned the GP and the diagnosis was flu symptoms in July - must be swine flu. Because I'm reasonably healthy I was not offered any antivirals. Told to take five days of bed rest (in reality I only needed about 2 1/2) take paracetamol and ibuprofen for the fever and pain (it did kind of feel like I'd been stepped on by an elephant) and call back if I developed a secondary infection.
Nine days later I rode 125 km on my bike with nothing worse than a sore bum for my efforts. I think I probably caught it in the local health club, I distinctly remember hearing someone sneezing a lot all over the machines and thinking, poor dear must have hay fever. . .
Fear not, if you don't have any serious health issues to begin with, swine flu is not that bad. I slept through most of it. And if you feel ill, STAY HOME!