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First Case Of Human Swine Flu In England Confirmed

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

The first case of onward transmission from human to human has been confirmed in England.

The transmission occurred between a returning traveller from Mexico and a "close contact" from the South West region of England. The appearance of onward human to human transmission in England is not unexpected. It has already been reported in other affected countries and the Scottish government today confirmed a case of onward human to human transmission, so there was a high likelihood it would occur in England.

A close contact is defined as someone who has been exposed to a probable or confirmed case within the previous seven days for longer than one hour and within a distance of one metre or less. Any close contacts of confirmed cases are offered antivirals as a precautionary measure.

The Health Protection Agency is continuing to monitor events and work closely alongside the UK government, to review the ongoing events and assess the threat they pose to UK public health. The Health Protection Agency's advice remains that individuals returning from affected areas who become unwell within seven days of their return should stay at home and contact their GP or NHS Direct. Individuals will be assessed and, if necessary, testing and treatment will be provided.

In addition to the nine confirmed cases announced earlier today (01 May 2009) there have now been a further four confirmed cases in the UK. These are one case in Scotland, two cases in the South West, and a Mexican pilot who has already returned to Mexico.

At this stage, we still only have two cases of human to human transmission in the UK. This does not yet represent sustained human to human transmission. All patients had contact with individuals who had reported illness and travel history to Mexico. The risk to the general public is still very low.

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Outside of Mexico, the majority of cases have been mild and cases have responded positively to antiviral treatment.

General infection control practices and good respiratory hand hygiene can help to reduce transmission of all viruses, including the human swine influenza. This includes:

* Covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, using a tissue when possible

* Disposing of dirty tissues promptly and carefully

* Maintaining good basic hygiene, for example washing hands frequently with soap and water to reduce the spread of the virus from your hands to face or to other people

* Cleaning hard surfaces (eg door handles) frequently using a normal cleaning product

* Making sure your children follow this advice