Recent years have seen a number of health outbreaks affecting Wales; measles in 2013 and the swine flu pandemic in 2009.

What is Pandemic Flu?

Influenza or 'flu' is a respiratory illness associated with infection by influenza virus. Symptoms frequently include headache, fever, cough, sore throat, aching muscles and joints. Influenza occurs most often in winter and usually peaks between December and March.

Each year, seasonal influenza brings about variable effects in successive winters and in some years causes intense pressure on health and social care services and significant levels of absence from the workplace and schools.

Unlike ordinary seasonal influenza that occurs every winter, pandemic flu can occur at any time of the year. Pandemics arise when a new virus emerges which is capable of spreading in the worldwide population.

Swine Flu

The worldwide 2009 swine flu pandemic outbreak was a new strain of H1N1 influenza virus, which saw the World Health Organisation declare a pandemic on 11 June 2009. Public Health Wales estimated that about 10 percent of the population contracted the virus over this period.

People with swine flu typically have a fever or high temperature (over 38°C) and may also have aching muscles, sore throat or a dry cough. The symptoms are very similar to other types of seasonal flu. Most people recover within a week, even without special treatment. Contact your GP if you think you have swine flu and you are worried.

In a major infectious disease emergency all resources are likely to be fully stretched and the impact on health and social care is likely to be intense. Public Health Wales and Health Boards work together with LRF partners to develop co-ordinated arrangements for public health information within the local community.

Staying Healthy

If you are concerned about pandemic flu there are a number of steps you can take:

  • Stay healthy – A healthy lifestyle is a great defence against flu and other illnesses.
  • ‘Catch it. Bin it. Kill it.’ - Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. Carry tissues, use them, bin them and wash your hands to get rid of germs.
  • A friend in need – If you are hit by flu, have a friend you can call who can collect your medication, food and other supplies.
  • Be prepared and ensure you have a supply of ‘over the counter’ cold and flu medication to help relieve symptoms.
  • Look out for, and observe the guidance from Public Health Wales.

More information on health issues in Wales can be found on Public Health Wales