Swine flu: Devon residents urged to take precautionary measures

PEOPLE in Devon are being advised to take precautionary measures following confirmed cases of swine flu in the UK

PEOPLE in Devon are being advised to take precautionary measures following confirmed cases of swine flu in the UK

Devon Primary Care Trust has reissued general advice about how to prevent the spread of colds and flu in the wake of the swine 'flu outbreak, which has caused deaths in Mexico.

The NHS in Devon is being vigilant and is well prepared, but it is too early to predict whether swine flu could ultimately result in a global pandemic, say health chiefs.

Dr Virginia Pearson, director of public health at the trust, said everyone had an important role to play in preventing the spread of germs.

"Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, disposing of it as soon as possible and quickly and thoroughly cleaning your hands are the most important actions to prevent the spread of infection," she said.

"This is as true for a common cold as it is for more serious diseases like 'flu and we should all be doing this as a matter of course."

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"The messages of 'Catch it, bin it, kill it' are easy:

* CATCH IT: germs spread easily. Always carry tissues and use them to catch your cough or sneeze.

* BIN IT: Germs can live for several hours on tissues. Dispose of them as soon as possible.

* KILL IT: Hands can transfer germs to any surface you touch. Clean you hands as soon as you can."

The UK was one of the first countries to have a flu pandemic contingency plan in place.

The UK plan seeks to reduce the negative health impact of any pandemic and the possible disruption it may cause to essential services and people's daily lives. This will be through measures such as antiviral treatment and immunisation (when this becomes available), and preparing the NHS and society as far as possible.

The NHS in Devon has taken a proactive approach and has been planning for some time. It is working closely with NHS South West and the Health Protection Agency to ensure we act on the latest information and with local partner organisations to ensure effective co-ordination.Dr Pearson added that the usual routine about staying home if you are sick is as important now as it has ever been.

"Please stay at home if you are sick," she said.

"If you have a cough and a fever, it is best to rest at home, take medicines to relieve the symptoms and drink plenty of fluids. This will speed your recovery and help prevent the spread of infection.