Saturday, June 13, 2009

I have the flu, but what kind?

As coinicidence would have it, just as the World Health Organisation is finally deciding to declare that swine flu is a pandemic (despite the situation meeting their technical definition for several weeks now - it's a political thing...), I'm coming down with the flu.

Thursday night I started feeling feverish and kind of nauseous, and my lymph nodes at my jaw were swollen, so I texted the boss to say I wasn't coming in on Friday. Friday morning I wake up with a sore throat, my sinuses draining down the back of my throat, a headache, still feverish, and then my muscles start aching.

Since I'd spent much of Thursday dealing with pandemic planning, I rang Healthline (0800-611-116) to find out what the deal was. They decided that, since I hadn't been overseas in the past seven days, or in contact with a confirmed swine flu case, that it was probably just one of the usual seasonal flu varieties - slightly annoying since I was vaccinated this year - I guess I've just got one of the varieties not included in this year's vaccine, or the vaccine is preventing me from getting a much worse dose - what I've got is really quite mild.

But, without a swab taken and testing done, we have no idea what strain of flu I have - I'd actually really love to know.

Now I've got a question for the health professionals out there - I know you're reading.

How are you going to detect the first community accquired cases of swine flu in New Zealand, if you're only testing people who have been overseas recently, or who have been in contact with someone with swine flu?

The first person who catches it from holding the handrail on the escalator at the shopping mall, and then wiping their eye, a minute after someone with swine flu sneezed all over it, is going to be told that they have seasonal flu because they don't meet the criteria for testing.

I'll be wrapped up on the couch awaiting your answer, since, even though I probably don't have kune kune cooties, I still have a variety of influenza, and I'm going to keep it to myself - which is what everyone should do when they have something infectious!


rediguana said...

Interesting you should post this, and the very next article in my feed reader was this one from the NZ Herald! ;)

Non-travel flu cases may signal wider spread

So the next step now is looking for transmission to take hold within the community (e.g. more than 1 or 2 identified cases), and at that point they will be less likely to worry about contact tracing, cluster control, and testing, and will focus just on managing it within the community.

Porirua EMO said...

Yes, I noticed that there were reports of two community-acquired cases in Wellington (and now more) pretty much just after I posted.

I guess I should have just showed up at my GP rather than ringing them, potentially infecting everyone and making them test me in a panic to see if they needed to isolate everyone in their waiting room.

I'm still at home with symptoms (quite mild, but it's trying to invade my ears now) - but if I didn't think it was actual influenza, rather than just a cold, I would have been at work spreading it around.

Honestly, I'd like it to be swine flu rather than just a seasonal flu, because then I'll be fine for the next, more virulent, waves.