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Call to test pupils for swine flu

25th September 2009

Public health officials are seeking to take blood tests from school pupils in an attempt to track the spread of swine flu.

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The move, which comes ahead of a predicted second wave of the epidemic, is aimed at helping health services more accurately calculate how many people have contracted the virus.

At this stage the proposal will be conducted on a voluntary basis and would involve pupils in only one secondary school.

Consultant epidemiologist Dr Jim McMenamin of Health Protection Scotland said blood testing would provide a better picture of the spread of swine flu.

Traditionally, health services have relied on swabs taken from people’s noses or throats to calculate the spread but these are often only carried out on people with symptoms.

Blood testing would allow health professionals to detect people who have developed swine flu but have only very mild or no symptoms and help health care planning for the winter period with a clearer calculation of how many people would be likely to get the condition.

Dr McMenamin told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme: "What we are proposing is, to get a better idea of the spread of this infection, that there is a limited opportunity for us to look at a very small number of the school population.

"We are proposing that at most one or two Scottish schools, and perhaps a similar number in other parts of the UK, would be asked to volunteer to take part in an investigation to see if H1N1 is spreading in their particular school."

 

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