Swine flu warning to mothers-to-be over fears it's making a comeback

Enlarge   Baby safe: Pregnant woman are more at risk of contracting swine flu than others

Baby safe: Pregnant woman are more at risk of contracting swine flu than others

Pregnant women are being warned to get a flu jab over fears that swine flu is making an unexpected comeback.

Public health officials have issued an alert after the H1N1 swine flu virus caused the death of ten people in Britain so far this winter.

The Department of Health reissued guidance for all expectant mothers to have the jab as the virus is more risky for pregnant women than others.

The latest vaccine offers protection against H1N1 and two other flu strains.

As well as pregnant women, normal target groups – the over-65s, those with conditions such as diabetes and health workers – have been urged to have it.

This amounts to more than 14million people, of whom pregnant women account for about 500,000. The Health Protection Agency said that the latest outbreak showed that the effects of flu are not to be underestimated, but insisted overall levels were normal for the time of year.

Of 89 cases of flu tested by GPs during the past week, 18 turned out to be swine flu.
Dr John Watson, a flu expert at the HPA, said: ‘Flu vaccination offers the best protection for those at high risk from seasonal influenza.

‘If you are in an at risk group and you haven’t had your jab, we recommend you make an appointment with your GP or medical practitioner now. Although unpleasant, flu is a self-limiting illness and if you have flu it is best to stay at home until well.

‘If individuals in at-risk groups develop symptoms consistent with flu, or if anyone’s symptoms persist or become more severe, then we advise they seek medical advice.’

The influenza H1N1 virus, formerly known as ‘swine flu’, is one of the group of seasonal flu viruses circulating around the world.

Following a pandemic, it is often the case that the strain that caused it becomes the most common seasonal strain of influenza the next flu season.

The swine flu alert issued last year proved to be hugely costly to public funds and ended with nothing like the scale of infection and deaths predicted.

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