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Swine flu testing criteria expanded as virus spreads

By Steve Nowottny

GPs in some parts of Scotland have been told to assess patients displaying flu-like symptoms as possible cases of swine flu - even if they are not a contact of a previous case and have no history of foreign travel.

The significant expansion of those considered at risk, outlined in the latest algorithm from Health Protection Scotland, comes amid growing signs that the virus is spreading.

A further 23 cases of swine flu were confirmed in England today, and 31 in Scotland, bringing the UK total to 459. And in its latest update to members, the RCGP warned it was ‘highly probable' that a full pandemic would be declared ‘some time soon.'

But it is a growing cluster of cases in Scotland, centred around the south of Glasgow, Paisley and Argyll & Bute, which is causing the most concern.

The updated Health Protection Scotland algorithm warns GPs in those areas to consider all patients presenting with flu-like symptoms as potential cases, and says nose and throat swab samples should be taken.

A spokeswoman for Health Protection Scotland said: ‘The algorithm has been regularly amended to reflect the changing situation in the country. The most recent changes concern the testing and infection control procedures related to cases of severe respiratory disease. These are related to the number of cases now hospitalised and echo the guidance given in a recent letter from the CMO.'

‘In addition, we have strengthened guidance on the taking of samples from those presenting with influenza like illness who are in areas where cases have arisen who so far have not been linked to any previously known case or to a returning traveller.'

Swine flu still spreading, public health experts warn Swine flu still spreading, public health experts warn

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