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Swine flu past containment and into outbreak stage

26 June 2009

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The government has said that some areas of the country have too many cases of swine flu to continue the containment policy and instead outbreak management is necessary.

Both London and the West Midlands have the highest concentration of UK swine flu cases, necessitating a policy of outbreak management involving clinical diagnosis rather than confirmation by laboratory reports.

Only a few people with suspected symptoms will be swabbed to keep track of the virus, and the use of the drug Tamiflu will also be more selective, targeting only those people with symptoms.

Although some areas of the country remain in containment phase, with people being treated prophylactically, Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson warned that a policy of containment would not last forever.

There are three stages of swine flu management: containment, outbreak management and treatment.

As part of the containment stage, lab tests confirm swine flu cases and anyone who has come into contact with them is given the antiviral drug Tamiflu.

The next stage is outbreak management, which leads to diagnosis of the virus by a health professional without lab confirmation.

The use of Tamiflu is restricted to diagnosed cases and not for people in contact with a swine flu victim.

The treatment phase is still being worked out, but Tamiflu may be reserved for at-risk groups and people will no longer be treated as a precaution.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

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