Seasonal flu, swine flu and norovirus
Seasonal flu, swine flu and the norovirus can affect anyone. Its important to know how to protect yourself and others and what to do if you have these illnesses.
Flu, or influenza, is a common and very infectious virus. Although it can be caught at any time, it tends to be more common in the winter. This is why it is also called "seasonal flu".
It is not the same as a common cold: the symptoms tend to be worse and last longer. It causes a sudden high temperature, headache and other aches and pains, as well as tiredness and sore throat. This and other possible symptoms will make you feel so unwell that resting in bed until you feel better is usually the only option.
Although flu is an unpleasant illness, for some people it can be much more serious. For this reason, a flu vaccine is available free on the NHS if you:
- Are pregnant
- 65 or older
- Have a serious medical condition
- Are a healthcare worker or carer
- Live in a residential or nursing home
The flu vaccine is available from October each year. If you think you need it, talk to your GP or practice nurse. This easy read booklet (pdf, 1Mb) (opens in a new window) has more information.
Although the 2010 swine flu pandemic is officially over, the virus that causes it will still be one of the main viruses circulating this winter. It has therefore been included in the 2012-13 seasonal flu vaccine. The NHS has information on swine flu (opens in a new window) including advice on who should be vaccinated. You can also get advice from NHS Direct (opens in a new window) by calling 0845 4647.
Norovirus is the most common stomach bug in the UK, affecting people of all ages. Although it can occur at any time, it is more common in the winter. This is why it is also sometimes known as the winter vomiting bug.
The virus is highly contagious and causes vomiting and diarrhoea. There is no specific cure and you should stay at home until it passes; this should only take a couple of days.
The NHS has information and advice on norovirus. (opens in a new window) You can also get advice from NHS Direct (opens in a new window) by calling 0845 4647.
Preventing the spread of germs is the single most effective way to slow the spread of diseases such as seasonal flu, swine flu and norovirus.
- Ensure everyone washes their hands regularly with soap and water
- Clean surfaces regularly to get rid of germs
- Use tissues to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
- Place used tissues in a bin as soon as possible
Remember: Catch it, bin it, kill it.