Editor's letter (August 13 issue)

How ironic. I have followed the worldwide spread of avian flu with keen interest, for obvious reasons, over the past four or more years, so when swine flu came along, I breathed a sigh of relief. I imagine many of you did likewise. At last, our birds were seemingly off the hook, and pigs were in the firing line.
So imagine my shock and horror to come down with a suspected case of swine flu last week. I say “suspected” because I will never know if it was the real deal. GPs are refusing to see patients with flu-like symptoms (to stop the spread of the virus in waiting rooms – or “petri dishes” as I like to call them) so there’s no chance of having a swab taken to confirm the presence of H1N1.
Indeed, it looks like the only way you can confirm if you are infected with H1N1 is if you are admitted to hospital with respiratory problems or die of the disease. Fortunately, my dose wasn’t that serious.
My symptoms included a high fever, aches and pains, a thumping headache and a throat that felt like I’d swallowed a dozen razorblades. It was “cured” by lots of bed rest (try five days), about two boxes of paracetamol, countless Strepsils and a sympathetic partner who provided lots of soothing drinks, hot soup and the odd bit of toast.
Funnily enough, the box of Tamiflu I acquired after filling out the NHS Direct assessment form online remained unopened. It’s only effective if you start taking the anti-viral medication within 48 hours of the first symptoms appearing, and I got my script a little too late. I expect at some point in the future it may come in useful – particularly if it turns out that my latest illness wasn’t swine flu at all.
Tamiflu is being issued free of charge, but you’re only entitled to one box – ever. I’d hate to think I wasted it!