Thursday, July 9, 2009

Swine Flu - Watch for temperatures

Swine Flu ( H1N1 )…….

As the Swine ‘Flu pandemic gathers momentum are you & your family prepared ?

If you experience a sudden onset of high fever, sore throat, headache, runny nose, cough & aches & pains, you could have Swine ‘Flu.

“Every household should have a thermometer, know how to use it, & be confident that they can accurately record body temperature.”

Fever is a defence mechanism, it inhibits viral replication & speeds up your body’s immune response. It’s a sign that you may need medical attention. Normal temperature is 37.2 C or 98.4 F but it may vary by as much as 0.5 C or 1 F throughout the day. Therefore a core temperature of > 38 C or 100.4 F constitutes a fever. Temperature is most easily & practically recorded by an “ in ear “ infrared thermometer or digital thermometer used orally or per axilla (armpit). Mercury glass thermometers are no longer in use as there are safer alternatives.


In ear infrared thermometers are quick & easy to use & are essentially one click. However they may not be suitable for children under the age of 36 months as an excess of wax can sometimes be a problem. That said these the quickest and easiest device to use.

Digital thermometers take a minute or so to record temperature & can be used under the tongue for oral temperature or per axilla (armpit). Remember to add 0.5 C or 1 F for readings taken per axilla (armpit).


It’s hoped the swine ‘flu pandemic will continue to follow what has so far been a benign course but being prepared & taking a common sense approach to protecting you & your family will help ensure the impact of this new strain is minimized.

So to be prepared…
  • ensure you have a suitable thermometer, stock up on tissues, disinfectants, non-perishable foods & listen out for local advice & bulletins.
  • Stock up on tissues, hand disinfectant & surface wipes.
Personal hygiene is so important in preventing the spread of infection & especially hand washing. Hospitals have learned costly lessons & now hand disinfectants are ubiquitous. Having hand disinfectants at home can be no bad thing. Surface wipes are also quick & easy. Lastly, tissues should be used to catch those germs, then binned. Catch it .. Bin it .. Kill it..!
  • Stock up on non-perishable foods.
If you or your family do catch swine ‘flu, you will be unable to make it to the shops so stocking up on non-perishable foods is sensible & prudent.

And finally, if in any doubt, call your GP’s surgery before visiting, your doctor may want to visit you to avoid the risk of spreading the virus.

Dr. B. C. Kellett BSc MBBS MRCGP

Dr. Kellett is a practicing GP and a member of the Royal College of General Practitioners

© Medi-sent Limited 2009