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Last Updated: Friday, 19 August 2005, 12:24 GMT 13:24 UK
GPs to get flu pandemic guidance
Chickens
Over 50 people have died from bird flu in south east Asia
GPs across the UK are being sent information packs about what they should do in event of a flu pandemic.

Experts say an outbreak is inevitable and will probably emerge in Asia if bird flu mutates with the human version to create a highly infectious virus.

GPs are being given leaflets to hand out to the public during an outbreak as well as guidance on the advice to give patients.

It has been predicted a flu pandemic could kill 50,000 in the UK.

The Department of Health said the measures did not mean the UK was on a higher state of alert and the packs were being sent out as part of the flu contingency plan announced in March.

A spokeswoman said: "GPs will be the first point of call for many members of the public so it is important they know what advice to give.

"It is all part of the process of being prepared in case of an outbreak."

Some people may see this as alarming, but what it is is making sure we are properly prepared
Dr Michael Dixon, of the NHS Alliance

The government has already announced it will be stockpiling antiviral drugs and vaccines to combat flu and could place restrictions on the gathering of large crowds and travel.

Under the guidance, family doctors are being told to encourage patients to take basic precautions during an outbreak such as hand-washing, covering mouths when sneezing and avoiding crowded places.

More than 50 people have died from bird flu in south east Asia so far.

While no mutation with a human flu has been seen to date, experts fear it will, triggering a pandemic.

Dr Michael Dixon, chairman of the NHS Alliance, which represents GPs, said it was important all the necessary steps were taken to safeguard against a potential outbreak.

"Some people may see this as alarming, but what it is is making sure we are properly prepared.

"GPs are probably not that clear about what their role would be if there is a pandemic, so if this helps it will be welcome."


SEE ALSO:
WHO warns of bird flu pandemic
22 Aug 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Bird flu's 'huge potential risk'
21 Apr 04 |  Science/Nature
Q&A: Avian flu
17 Feb 05 |  Health


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