Monday, April 27, 2009

Swine flu: Your questions - BBC

Maureen Barker
Dr Barker is Honorary Secretary of Council to the RCGP

Governments around the world are striving to contain a new flu virus suspected of killing more than 100 people in Mexico.

Experts warn swine flu could spark a global pandemic.

BBC News online put a number of your questions to flu expert Maureen Baker, Head of Pandemic Planning at the Royal College of General Practitioners.


We are a GP surgery with over 8,000 patients. We are obviously awaiting guidance from the Dept of Health. In our pandemic flu plan we have been advised by our local PCT to provide 8 masks a day per member of staff - could you clarify the projected usage of a mask - ie: should they be treated like surgical gloves and disposed of after one use? Caroline Dray, Ramsgate, UK

Dr Baker:

Masks become ineffective when they become damp or after a few hours.

There has been a lot of debate on the use of facemasks and some authorities say that, in the community, the most effective use is to give to patients who may have symptoms when they present in the surgery - that should help reduce the infectivity of that patient to surgery staff and other patients. I expect the Department of Health will issue guidance on use of facemasks if we move into a pandemic phase.

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