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Two-thirds of patients take a swine-flu 'sickie'

Most people with symptoms take self-medication advice and stay away from work

OnMedica staff

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Figures from a new internet-based flu surveillance system launched last month show that over two-thirds of those who had swine flu symptoms changed their daily routine.

Most users of the website flusurvey.org.uk run by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who did change their behaviour reported taking 2-6 days off school or work.

Figures also showed that after the launch of the government’s National Pandemic Flu Service, just 8% of those experiencing flu-like symptoms telephoned their GP, compared to 39% before. Only 10% of those with flu-like symptoms telephoned the National Pandemic Flu Service.

Dr Ken Eames, a research fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine says: "These figures tell us a great deal about people’s behaviour; most people with symptoms are pretty sensible - they stay at home and take paracetamol. But even though there doesn’t seem to be any sense of panic, the potential disruption that these absences might cause if there is another surge of cases in the Autumn needs to be planned for. Thanks to those people who have participated so far in the UK flu survey we now have some idea what to expect."

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