Spain has activated its emergency plan for control and detection of epidemics, in accordance with the recommendation from the World Health Organisation (WHO). This involves alerting all public and private hospitals to the symptoms of the disease and sending out samples to all laboratories to permit immediate identification of infected patients.
Controls are being put in place at all airports and ports to detect any passengers with fever like symptoms coming from affected zones. Passengers arriving from infected zones are also being warned of the danger and advised on what to do if they come down with flu like symptoms in the next few days.
The emergency services are trained for control and quarantine of infectious patients, as was demonstrated in the case of Caroline, a 20 year old student from Almería city who arrived back from Mexico last week and shortly afterwards came down with the flu. After a call to her doctor, an ambulance with trained technicians in bio-hazard suits arrived and she was quarantined in Torrecardenas hospital (Almería city) until the laboratory tests proved that she was not suffering from swine flu, but a normal flu. She said that while the situation was scary, she was impressed by the professionalism shown by the medical community in taking her out of circulation – within 12 hours the tests had been returned and she was sent home.
Symptoms of swine flu start off as a normal flu. A temperature of around 38ºC, muscular pain, severe cough, etc. Official recommendation is that if you display any of these symptoms you should see your doctor. If you have been in contact recently with anyone who has been in the affected areas you should inform your doctor of this. 2 to 5 days may pass between contagion and the first symptoms.
The authorities are requesting that anyone with fever and cough not attempt to “tough it out”, but instead to call your local GP who will be able to advise you further. If you or anyone you know was recently in Mexico or affected parts of the USA inform your doctor immediately. Or you can call “Salud Responde”, who speak English, on 902 505 060. They will be able to give you advice on what to take.
If you are asked to turn up at your local medical centre for a test, it is worth pointing out that the test is a simple one involving a mouth swab and your doctor will be able to advise you on treatment, even if it is just a normal case of flu.
It is disputed as to whether or not facemasks protect against infection. Studies show that they must be worn continuously and be used in conjunction with other hygiene methods in order to be useful. So in a controlled environment such as a hospital, they are indispensable, in day to day use they are not recommended.
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I’ve just seen the news that a child in the US hadsdied from swine flu, so it’s no longer just Mexico dealing with deaths, and I guess that means we should expect deaths in Europe too. I’m impressed by the reaction of the Spanish authorities with Caroline, it shows that their are good procedures in place.