Swine Flu Information

Friday May 1st, 2009

Swine Flu Statement by Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health and Children, Thursday, April 30th 2009

The World Health Organisation has raised the current level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 4 to phase 5. This means that worldwide, all countries should immediately activate their pandemic preparedness plans. This is something we are already doing and we have been planning for this eventuality for a number of years

As we previously indicated, it is highly likely that the numbers of cases worldwide will continue to increase and that there will be confirmed swine flu cases in Ireland. As of today, there is a single probable case in Ireland who is undergoing the appropriate treatment and contacts are being traced.

In my statement of April 28th, I outlined the arrangements relating to our overall level of preparedness for pandemic influenza so that the necessary responses are in place and are appropriately coordinated. In response to the phase 5 alert level, we are putting in place additional measures so that we respond well in the event of a pandemic developing. As of Thursday, 30th April 2009, these include:
  • Practical information for the public on measures to reduce the chance of spread of influenza and on what to do if you are concerned about symptoms. This information is available today on the HSE’s website. We will make this available by leaflets to all households and also through the media of TV and radio.
  • We have heightened our surveillance in the community and hospitals across the country.
  • We have strengthened our ability for early detection and treatment of cases as well as infection control in health facilities.
  • We currently have antiviral stockpiles for 47% of the population which is amongst the highest levels worldwide.

There is practical information on Influenza and how to limit infection.
  • Swine flu is similar to the symptoms of regular seasonal influenza and include fever, fatigue, cough, sore throat, lack of appetite and sometimes vomiting and diarrhoea.
  • If you have a cough or sneeze, use a tissue then dispose of it and wash your hands with soap and water as soon as possible to kill the virus.
  • If you get sick with a flu like illness as described above then contact your GP by telephone who will advise on testing or treatment. The general use of masks is not advised.
  • If you have travelled from an affected region in the last 7 days and have symptoms similar to those above, then contact your GP.

This practical advice is among the measures we are taking to prepare for a possible pandemic. Further information for professionals and the public is available through the websites of the Department of Health and Children and the HSE's Health Protection Surveillance Centre. This includes information on Travel Advice and Frequently Asked Questions as well as information for healthcare professionals. This information is updated on a daily basis.

For more information please visit the website of the Department of Health and Children. A list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) relating to swine flu can be found here.

Last update:01/05/2009