Sunday, 17 May 2009

Bristol UFO Video (May 2009) Delta/Triangle

A video alleged to have been taken in Bristol recently of a Delta/Triangular shaped UFO, the video was picked up by the local and national media (Telegraph).

A quick look at the video instantly struck me as a computer generated object although I haven't studied the video to any extent but let me explain why, if you follow the YouTube link it takes you to a user called *ikkleh* who is also known as Andrew Hadlington, he has a link to his website posted and it leads to ‘' a quick visit shows the following image and nothing else (I've highlighted what I believe to be relevant). Also a quick look at the source code lists the keywords, “game, viral, viral marketing” amongst others and the title text reads:

“Digital Oranges Interactive - Specialists in Flash game development for the Online, Viral Marketing, and the Leisure and Gambling Industry.”

Hadlington also states he is a computer programmer (Flash game development) and a senior artist for Rage software (source), the Youtube video is accompanied with the following description:

"This UFO (or whatever it is) buzzed us twice - managed to get it the second time around. Freakiest thing I have ever seen in my life. Source."

And here's the original video first, then brightened a little and then slowed down…..

UFO over Bristol - 10 May 2009

The Telegraph article stated:

Computer game writer Andy, 36, said:

"It was the freakiest thing I have ever seen in my life. I was sitting in my office and saw it out of the corner of my eye….We're not far from the airport so I thought it could even have been a low-flying plane, so I was quite alarmed…..It was quite exciting – it sort of hovered past the houses. There was no sound. I ran downstairs and out of the garden to see where it went but I couldn't see anything…..My fiancée was out at the time but I'm sure other people must have seen it. It was so clear."

Now while I appreciate that the media often misrepresent people in their stories the above excerpt seems like a direct quote and more importantly a quote which seemingly contradicts the description that accompanied the original video.

But apart from this, the fact that the witness is well placed within the gaming industry to construct such a video and because he also appears to promote himself as a ‘viral marketer' alarm bells instantly were instantly ringing, especially when considered along with the facts that this object was apparently circling (due to the fact it passed the witness more than once) and was allegedly sighted at 5:30pm over a residential area (Sunday teatime), well, surely more than one witness would have seen such a phenomenon?

All in my humble opinion of course…..

Anyway here's the original Telegraph article (there was a related article suggesting that the object was a piece of cardboard but to be honest that's more unbelievable than the fact that it was a ‘nuts & bolts' physical object, hence its omission):

Andy Hadlington saw the mysterious blob silently hovering around and filmed it from the window of his office. The mysterious grey object glided around the residential area of Knowle, Bristol, at 5.30pm on Sunday without making a sound. UFO experts have been trying to verify the sighting and are hoping to speak to more witnesses and views of the eerie episode.

Computer game writer Andy, 36, said:

"It was the freakiest thing I have ever seen in my life. I was sitting in my office and saw it out of the corner of my eye…..We're not far from the airport so I thought it could even have been a low-flying plane, so I was quite alarmed…..It was quite exciting – it sort of hovered past the houses. There was no sound. I ran downstairs and out of the garden to see where it went but I couldn't see anything…..My fiancée was out at the time but I'm sure other people must have seen it. It was so clear…..

Denis Plunkett, of the British Flying Saucer Bureau, based in Winterbourne, near Bristol, was unable to comment on the video but said there were ways to verify its authenticity, saying:

"There are ways to sort out good from bad. Firstly they are silent, there will be no noise…They can also become invisible. They can go in and out of MoD radar. They can change speed, direction and height in seconds…..The best thing is if there are multiple witnesses to the sighting. If more people saw this I'd be very interested.”

Source: The Telegraph

Sunday, 10 May 2009

UK- UFO Over Glastonbury Tor (May 2009)

05-02-09 - Great Britain - Pulsating Light Show

I have just arrived home from a camping holiday in Glastonbury, Somerset, England. With me were my wife Fran, and our friend Julie. It was our last night and we were at our campsite in the larger of the two tents we had taken. I looked out of the doorway and noticed a bright reddish orange light above Glastonbury Tor. I mentioned this immediately to the others because it was an unusual colour for an aeroplane.

I must mention that there was cloud cover and no stars were visible. However, ground level visibility was good. The light ascended and started to pulsate - I suspect the pulsation was as it got nearer to and started entering the clouds, all of a sudden two more lights the same ascended and as they did the first one disappeared into the clouds. We were all amazed at this fantastic light show and it still hadn't ended because as the two lights reached the clouds another one appeared and this followed the same course.

All of this occurred at approx 23.25 - 23.40 BST on 2nd May, 2009. I had 2 mini-DV camcorders with me, but both had been used and due to us camping we never had a way of powering them, therefore no film. I had used all the batteries filming Mayday events.

Regards, Maurice Voice from Wirral, Merseyside, England

Source: UFOCasebook

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

UK - South Wales UFO Reported (May 2009)

(For all this particular account sounds like yet another case of Chinese Lanterns the witness seems well-versed in astronomy and the night sky in general).

UFO sighting shock

A head teacher from Ammanford has told how she was left “spooked” by a mysterious formation of bright lights she spotted above the town on Saturday night, Rhian Thomas, a self-confessed UFO sceptic, admits she is struggling to find an explanation to what she and her husband Alan witnessed above their home in Heol Ddu. Mrs Thomas, head teacher of Clydach junior school:

“I was leaving my home to take my dog for a walk…..The sky was very clear and my attention was seized by some extremely large and bright lights in the sky towards the north west…..Right across the skyline there were seven ‘stars' in a formation very similar to that of the constellation The Plough…..Each ‘star' had a reddish light and, as I looked, I could see they were all moving very slowly and silently towards the north. There was no vapour trail either…..The lights spanned the width of the sky and were brighter than Venus. It was a lovely clear night and I'll be very surprised if no-one else saw something ….We live on top of a hill overlooking Ammanford and occasionally see shooting stars, but never something like this…..Can anyone give me a rational explanation? It spooked me a bit to be quite honest – and I've always been a bit of a UFO sceptic.”

Mrs Thomas's husband dashed outside just in time to catch a glimpse of three of the lights before they disappeared from sight:

“Living where we do we are used to seeing transatlantic flights on a regular basis…..This was not a high-flying jet. It was lower, made no sound and was just, well, different.”

A spokesman for Ammanford police said they had not received any reports.

Source: South Wales Guardian

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

(UK) Peterborough UFO, Appeal For Witnesses (May 2009)

(To be honest the main report sounds like Chinese Lanterns but as the article includes several other sightings I thought it warranted a mention.)

Mystery surrounds the appearance of eight eerie orange lights which lit up Peterborough's skyline on Sunday evening and left star gazers in awe. The bright circular lights, which were spotted around the city by Evening Telegraph readers on Sunday (3 May), have re-ignited the great Peterborough UFO mystery.

Peterborough UFOLocal people have reported between eight and 10 lights seen floating around Whittlesey, Coates, the Ortons and Hampton – the latest in a long line of mysterious heavenly sightings in and around the city in recent months – only some of which have been explained. Stacie Dunn, of Belton Road, Stanground, Peterborough, was driving along Fletton Parkway with her family at about 10.10pm when she noticed the bright lights. The family pulled over to take a closer look when they noticed there were eight glowing orange lights.

Stacie (18) said: “We all got out to look but there was no noise, a clear sky and these objects seemed to be heading towards Whittlesey”.

More sightings in Peterborough

A mysterious aircraft was seen circling the city on April 8 by eagle-eyed residents in Werrington. However , it was later revealed to be a aeroplane with thermal imaging equipment, which shows up heat use, carrying out a night-time mission over Peterborough to map out the energy use of city homes.

In January The Evening Telegraph reported other unexplained lights at about midnight on New Year's Day. While some thought aliens may have landed, it was revealed a city family had lit half a dozen Chinese lanterns and released them as part of their new years celebrations.

There was another sighting above the city in October last year, when residents in Werrington reported seeing a fireball streaking across the night sky. It turned out to be an "unusually large" meteor.

Other strange lights were spotted in Wisbech in November and above Peterborough in August – the latter of which was said to have been a recently- restored Vulcan bomber in flight:

"It was amazing. They were perfect circular objects, but we have no idea what they were. They seemed to be overtaking each other and as they moved along, their glow started to fade….."I tried to take a picture with my phone, but it didn't come out. We are just baffled and amazed as to what they may have been. I searched the internet the next day but I can't see anything that looks like they did."

Another reader, Laura Saidler, from Orton Longueville, wrote in to say she also saw about 10 lights floating in the sky:

"They were quite low down and all floating together. They were an orange and yellow colour and looked like candles floating…..There was no noise coming from them…..We tried to take pictures but nothing came out on the camera and the lights floated towards Orton Hall Hotel."

However, Mike Dunne, from Castor, near Peterborough, believes the lights were a result of someone shining a very strong light on to the low cloud base:

"My daughter spotted these strange lights in the sky and phoned me…..I had a look and, although faint, a beam of light could be seen coming from the Peterborough area. It was obviously someone shining a very strong light on to the low cloud base. UFOs – rubbish."

Source: Peterborough ET

Monday, 4 May 2009

Firefighters Investigate ‘Burning object’ UFO alert - Shadsworth UK (May 2009)

‘Burning object’ UFO Alert

AN unidentified flying object was seen over the skies of Blackburn.

A ‘burning’ object which then shot through the sky at speed was witnessed by a 15-year-old boy and a resident in Arran Avenue on Friday night.

Firefighters were alerted around 9.30pm to the unusual goings on over Shadsworth.

Crew manager Paul Jennings said:

Lancashire Telegraph UFO“We were called to reports of a UFO around 9.30pm in Arran Avenue.....A 15-year-old lad and one of the neighbours said they had seen a burning objects in the sky. They said it was almost like a hot air balloon but it was moving too fast....It had disappeared by the time we got there. We spoke to the lad but we would not have been able to do anything had we seen it.”

Source: Lancashire Telegraph

Morristown, New Jersey UFO Hoax – Looking For Pseudoscience In All The Wrong Places?

As regular readers no doubt know I have always been interested in UFO hoaxes and the various guises in which they manifest for nearly as long as I have been interested in genuinely unexplainable UFO reports, in fact if the truth be known then the UFO hoax aspect is practically inseparable from the broader UFO phenomenon itself and I believe hoaxes and their effects are also more than worthy of study, or at the very least acknowledgement…..

Eskeptic published an admission last month (April 1st 2009) by Joe Rudy (who holds a B.S. in science and actually teaches science as well as beings a private classical music teacher) and Chris Russo (who has a degree in management and economics and is a former model & actor) that they had personally perpetrated (and documented on video) the Morristown UFO Sightings (Jan 2009).

In the Eskeptic reveal which was titled, “How We Staged the Morristown UFO Hoax” Chris Russo & Joe Rudy wrote:

“In November of 2008, we found ourselves sitting around one evening discussing pseudoscience and the large numbers of people that still believe in its various guises. We had always had a strong interest in why people were so easily fooled by such irrational superstitions as psychic ability, spiritual mediums, alien abductions, and the like. Despite the lack of evidence to support these notions, we were baffled. How could so many people in an age of science still buy into dogma that is no more or less ridiculous than the notion of an elderly obese man delivering presents to every child on Earth in one evening? And like most other people, we had always heard about the uneducated farmer spotting an alien spaceship hovering over his farm, but we wondered if that amount of gullibility could be found in our upper-middle class hometown of Hanover, NJ, and the surrounding cities. “

“…..60 years later, despite the fact that there is still no evidence of their existence, the UFO myth is as strong today as ever, fed by cable channel shows that prop up UFO “experts” who claim to be authorities on a subject that's on par with astrology and palm reading. These charlatans make a career by perpetuating the E.T. fairy tale and exploiting credulous people who want nothing more than a good conspiracy theory to believe in.”

“It is in this context that we set out on a mission to help people think rationally and question the credibility of so-called UFO “professionals.” We brainstormed the idea of producing a spaceship hoax to fool people, bring the charlatans out of the woodwork to drum up controversy, and then expose it as nothing more than a prank to show everyone how unreliable eyewitness accounts are, along with investigators of UFOs.”

Source: Eskeptic

So, puzzled as to why people still believed in pseudoscience they ‘set out on a mission' to produce a ‘spaceship hoax,' well, each to their own and that's fair enough I suppose, however it appears that far from being an experiment of any description and the entire catalogue of events was nothing more than a fishing trip of sorts, but an experiment?

Perhaps, but surely the only real conclusion that can be drawn is that ‘confirmation bias' was inherent and that the ‘experiment' was rendered useless by applying the pseudoscientific method (that they claim to abhor) with such liberal disregard.

Identifying pseudoscience” - A field, practice, or body of knowledge might reasonably be called pseudoscientific when (1) it is presented as consistent with the accepted norms of scientific research; but (2) it demonstrably fails to meet these norms, most importantly, in misuse of scientific method. (Source)

Ah yes, the scientific method…..

Scientific method”- Refers to bodies of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.....Although procedures vary from one field of inquiry to another, identifiable features distinguish scientific inquiry from other methodologies of knowledge..... Among other facets shared by the various fields of inquiry is the conviction that the process be objective to reduce a biased interpretation of the results. (Source)

So one of the main identifiers of pseudoscience is ‘misuse of the scientific method' which in turn shares a universally accepted & steadfast rule that it must be ‘objective to reduce a biased interpretation of the results,' yet Russo and Rudy after launching their balloons would call the news media to report a UFO sighting and can be seen doing so on the video, saying, "There are really strange lights in Morristown…..Doesn't look like a plane or anything." Not content with that they also appeared on TV further supporting the hoax by giving interviews of their ‘UFO sightings' and by doing so completely contaminated any results and consequently any/all conclusions.

But personally speaking, it was the actual reporting on the hoax which forced that old familiar feeling of contempt to stir, contempt the kind of which is almost exclusively reserved for journalists and politicians. However I suspect I run the risk of appearing to be generalising to an extent equal to that which I so often accuse the mass-media of, so I'll specify as it's ‘Newsweek' in particular I'm referring to. Of course this is nothing that hasn't been mentioned across the Blogosphere prior to my meagre contribution, most notably by Billy Cox, who in an article titled, “Nicely Done Newsweak” wrote:

“What's actually more revealing is how, within hours, Newsweek was the first to cheerlead the caper for its novel approach to promoting critical thinking. ‘Nicely done, guys,' wrote Sharon Begley for the magazine's Web page.”

Source: HeraldTribune

The crux of the complaints (mine included) is that -tactless reporting aside- the media took a great deal more notice once the fact that it was a hoax was admitted, and positively relished the opportunity to yet again portray the UFO community in a negative light, worse still it appears as if they believed they were justified in doing so, completely ignoring the suspect methodology employed by the hoaxers and instead actually championing the flawed experiment, “Nicely done guys” indeed……

Saturday, 2 May 2009

2009 Petten ‘Drone/Kite' – Raison d'être?

I posted a few days ago about what I believed was a kite being touted as a Drone. I was a little surprised at how quickly this was embraced as such by LMH, especially considering her last few posts were almost a year ago. Earthfiles posted a bit when the flap was ongoing in the summer 2007 but in all of 2008 and until April 2009 only four related posts were made:

• 06/06/2008 — Aerial Ring with Antennas in Southern Ohio Forest and Chicago Dragonfly Drone

• 05/09/2008 — Dragonfly Drones - Surveillance Technology?

• 04/04/2008 — Wingless, “Dragonfly” Sighting On March 31, 2008

• 03/21/2008 — Part 2, Dragonfly-Shaped Aerial Craft: Current Media Misinformation Versus Eyewitnesses 1987 to 2007

• 03/07/2008 — Mysterious Aerial “Drones” - Oklahoma and Arkansas

Also all of these witnesses made the Drone association themselves which is why it seemed doubly strange when the most recent Petten witness was blissfully unaware of the Drones and indeed their implications when quizzed by LMH. Yet the association was still made and LMH gleefully added this new account to her Drone timeline while the second post regarding this was a couple of emails, both of which made tenuous connections. The first one with the Petten reactor and the second with another one of LMH's marketable passions, crop circles, but as I said I was a little puzzled as to why this report was being ‘overcooked' as it were.

I was also puzzled as to why the sudden interest by LMH in what was an explainable sighting and her eagerness to portray it as a Drone, well, that was until I found the following which was recently posted to Whitley Strieber's website, it's from the press release for the Dreamland-II festival in June (2009) and states that:

The crop circles of 2008 astonished researchers and silenced debunkers, and Linda Moulton Howe is going to tell us why and then go beyond public knowledge and into the mysterious world of leaked documents and attempts to back-engineer technology based on the patterns. One pattern in 2008 amazed scientists when the first ten digits of the infinite number Pi were found embedded in t. This coded circle was found near Barbury castle, where a 1991 circle inspired astronomer Gerald Hawkins to discover new geometry theorems. Further, in 2008 and 1991, the same Barbury Castle ratcheted spiral designs in which numbers have been embedded is found in an alleged leaked document from the 1980s linked to back-engineering extraterrestrial technology. This is THE crop circle presentation. There has been nothing like it before. EVER.

Source: Dreamland Store

Obviously the, “leaked document from the 1980s linked to back-engineering extraterrestrial technology” is none other than the documentation which accompanied the Drones and crudely presented as genuine by Isaac, yep, the faked Caret documents.

All for a measly $250!!

So you see really it's a most fortuitous coincidence that the Drones are indeed still making headlines, even if it does only appear to be at Earthfiles…..

“Classic” Diamond Shaped UFO Spotted, Tavistock (UK)

A nice change from the ‘lights in the sky' which seem to be standard fare lately, the witness describes a diamond shaped UFO with a point light source on the underside, which sounds remarkably like the triangular UFOs which plagued Belgium in 1989/90.

Belgium Trangle

The following was reported on the 30th April, 2009.

Tavistock UFO

A WALKER and her friend had a shock when they spotted a strange object flying over the moors last week. Tavistock resident Emma Cockayne witnessed the encounter while out walking with a friend on Whitchurch Down at around 7pm on Tuesday, April 21.

Miss Cockayne said:

“We were walking down to the right of the Pimple, towards the trees…..We were just chatting away when all of a sudden my friend looked up and pointed to this thing flying in the sky. It was black or grey and shaped like a diamond, with a red light or flame in the middle……It was flying lower than a plane, it looked like something you'd see on TV.”

There have been numerous sightings of unidentified objects around the Whitchurch and Pew Tor area this year. In February a family claimed to see a mysterious orange glowing object flying in the sky in February.

Miss Cockayne added:

“We just couldn't get our heads around what we were seeing, it was totally and utterly intriguing. I have never seen anything like it before.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence in the South West said:

“The MOD examines reports solely to establish whether UK airspace may have been compromised by hostile or unauthorised military activity…..Unless there is evidence of a potential threat, there is no attempt to identify the nature of each sighting reported.”

Source: Tavistock-Today

Friday, 1 May 2009

Swine Flu – The Facts(?)

I thought I'd mention a couple of articles I'd seen, firstly the Independent traces the origin of the disease:

Swine flu: Was first victim a modern Typhoid Mary?

Authorities admit that census taker transmitted the virus door-to-door.

The first person to die of swine flu was a 39-year-old tax inspector whose job required her to make door-to-door visits, putting her in contact with at least 300 unsuspecting members of the public when the disease was at its most virulent, Mexican authorities have said.

Maria Adela Gutierrez, a census-taker in the southern tourist city of Oaxaca, was admitted to a local hospital on 8 April and died five days later. She'd been suffering acute respiratory problems, exacerbated by diabetes and severe diarrhoea, and is believed to have infected scores of people.

The story of her death, which occurred three weeks before the virus was officially identified, came as Mexico remained on a state of high alert, with schools, government offices and many workplaces closed. The suspected death toll in Mexico reached 152 last night, with over 2,000 people infected. In the US the confirmed total of cases jumped to 64; California, with more than a dozen infected, declared a public health emergency and the World Health Organisation said it had notification of 79 confirmed cases worldwide.

Ms Gutierrez's demise may fuel controversy over Mexico's handling of the outbreak, which has been criticised as chaotic and secretive. Authorities at Oaxaca's Hospital Civil Aurelio Valdivieso, where she was treated, did not confirm that an infectious disease had broken out there until 21 April, by which time one further patient had also died.

Doctors initially thought Gutierrez was suffering from pneumonia. But when 16 further patients exhibited signs of severe respiratory infection, they established a quarantine area around the emergency room. Shortly afterwards, state health authorities began to track down every person she'd had recent contact with and conduct check-ups.

That discreet search suggested that Gutierrez may have unwittingly been a latter-day "Typhoid Mary". It turned up more than 300 people, including many members of the public whom she'd interviewed as she knocked on doors in late March and early April. Local sources told Veratect, the US disease-tracking company which sounded the alarm, that between 33 and 61 of those interviewees "exhibited symptoms" of a flu-like illness, though none have died.

Oaxaca is the historic capital of Oaxaca state, a mountainous region on Mexico's southern Pacific coast. Its location may be crucial to tracking the spread of swine flu, because it borders Veracruz, the state where the virus is believed to have first infected humans.

Edgar Hernandez, a boy who contracted the disease on 2 April and subsequently made a full recovery, was on Monday identified by Mexico's health secretary Jose Angel Cordova as "patient zero" – the first officially identified victim of the disease. He lives in the small town of La Gloria, in Veracruz province, five miles downwind of a vast pig farm identified a potential source of the outbreak. The farm is owned by owned by Smithfield Foods, a US agribusiness corporation, whose Mexican subsidiary raises a million pigs per year.

In February, dozens of locals began falling ill from a mysterious, flu-like disease. On 6 April, authorities in La Gloria declared an "alert," saying 400 people had required treatment and 1,800 were exhibiting respiratory problems. The town has a population of 3,000.

Public health workers sealed off the town and began exterminating huge numbers of flies that had reportedly begun swarming through homes. However, they are yet to identify this outbreak as swine flu. News teams who have descended on the town have been urged against jumping to conclusions.

But the locals aren't convinced. Jose Luis Martinez, a 34-year-old resident of La Gloria, told reporters yesterday that he knew the disease which had infected his town was swine flu the minute he heard description of its symptoms: fever, coughing, joint aches, severe headache and, in some cases, vomiting and diarrhoea. "When we saw it on the television, we said to ourselves, 'This is what we had,' " he said. "The symptoms they are suffering are the same that we had here."

Factory farming is already a contentious issue in Veracruz state because thousands of farmers claim they were evicted from their land there by the Mexican government in 1992, in an alleged move to make way for US farming companies seeking to exploit relaxed welfare standards. If La Gloria was indeed the source of the original outbreak, it is likely to have quickly spread to major cities. Roughly half the people with homes in the town live and work in Mexico City during the week.

Yesterday, the capital was again in a state of high alert. Most people were wearing surgical masks in public, large gatherings of people are banned, restaurants can only serve take-out food, and bars forced to shut at 6pm. Those measures are almost certainly too late. Swine flu is likely to have arrived in the city during the first fortnight of April – timing which may have been fatal, since it coincided with Semana Santa (Holy Week), bringing a million people to the capital from all over the country.

'Typhoid Mary'

Mary Mallon was an Irish chef who became the first person in the US to be identified as a carrier of typhoid fever. She is believed to have infected 53 people, three of whom died. She denied spreading the disease and refused to cease working. Born in 1869, she died in quarantine in 1938.

Source: Independent

And secondly the Guardian tries to break it down a little and offers a decent swine flu FAQ:

What is swine flu?

Swine flu is a form of influenza that originated in pigs but can now be caught by and spread among people. The current outbreak started in Mexico, with cases now confirmed in the US, Canada, New Zealand, Spain, the UK, Germany, Austria, Israel, Costa Rica and South Korea. At the time of writing there have been more than 150 confirmed deaths from the infection in Mexico but only one death elsewhere, a 23-month-old Mexican boy in Texas.

Human strains of flu kill a few hundred thousand people worldwide every year, but strains of flu virus that originate in livestock such as pigs or chickens have the potential to kill millions worldwide if they start spreading among people. This is because, unlike ordinary strains of winter flu, humans have little resistance to them.

Swine flu is caused by a type A influenza virus, and the new strain belongs to the most common subtype, known as H1N1. Public health experts are particularly concerned about strains like this one that have spread from pigs to humans, because the animals can act as "crucibles", harbouring several flu viruses at once which can swap genes and become more virulent.

Influenza viruses are made up of only eight genes: the new strain has six genes from a swine flu virus known to have been circulating in North America – itself a mixture of human, pig and avian flu viruses – and two from a swine virus found in European and Asian pigs.

How do humans catch it?

Swine flu spreads to people in two ways. They can acquire the virus after being in contact with infected pigs or areas where the pigs have been – which is only likely to happen in Mexico – or they can catch it from an infected person. The disease spreads in the same way as human flu, by inhaling airborne particles from coughs and sneezes, or by touching a contaminated surface and then touching the nose or mouth.

It should be emphasised that in most cases the infection makes people unwell but is not life-threatening. For reasons that are not yet known, the infection seems to be more severe in Mexico than elsewhere. From published data on confirmed cases, the mortality rate in Mexico appears to be 4% and outside Mexico 1%.

What can I do to avoid infection – and stop spreading it to others?

Virus particles can survive for hours on surfaces such as doorhandles, so it's important to wash your hands frequently with soap and water. You should cover your mouth with a handkerchief if you cough or sneeze. If you don't have a handkerchief, cover your mouth with the crook of your elbow rather than your hand. But if you do use your hands when coughing or sneezing, wash them as soon as possible afterwards.

Avoid touching your mouth and nose with your hands or rubbing your eyes.

Should I wear a mask?

There is little point wearing a mask unless you yourself or someone you are caring for is suspected of having the infection. Masks only work if changed regularly and they get damp easily, becoming an infection risk. Not all masks will be effective. Surgical masks are not designed to prevent virus particles being inhaled but to stop germs spreading from doctors to patients. Masks that protect against viruses conform to the European standard FFP3 and the US equivalent N95.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of swine flu are similar to normal flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, headache, aching limbs, chills and fatigue. Some patients infected with swine flu have also reported loss of appetite, diarrhoea and vomiting. In very young children, the warning signs include fast or troubled breathing, a bluish skin tone, a failure to interact with others, and being highly irritable.

As with seasonal flu, swine flu varies in severity, with the worst cases leading to fatal pneumonia and respiratory failure. The new strain seems to be more lethal to those in the 25 to 45 age range. This was a hallmark of the Spanish 1918 flu pandemic that killed tens of millions worldwide. Younger people were probably hit harder than the elderly by the 1918 flu virus because their immune systems overreacted.

What should I do if I think I'm infected?

This is highly unlikely in the UK unless you have recently returned from Mexico or the US, or have come into contact with someone who has. Ordinary flu and any number of other infections can cause flu-like symptoms.

However, if you've been to Mexico or the US, or another country that has been affected by swine flu, the UK's Health Protection Agency says you should monitor your health for seven days after your return. If you develop flu-like symptoms during that time, you should stay at home and phone your GP, or phone NHS Direct on 0800 1513 513. Make sure you tell them where you've been travelling. Further information about swine flu is available online from the UK government's Directgov website.

Your doctor may arrange diagnostic tests, which can be carried out at home or in hospital. Until you get the results you should avoid contact with other people. You should also take sensible hygiene precautions (see above) to avoid spreading the virus.

Are there effective treatments?

The antiviral medicines oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) are effective treatments for swine flu. The UK has sufficient stocks to provide a total of 33.5 million treatment courses.

Is there a vaccine for swine flu?

The seasonal flu jab given to the elderly over the winter months works well against human flu viruses, but is unlikely to be effective against swine flu. The World Health Organisation will decide whether to divert resources from manufacturing regular flu vaccine into making swine flu vaccine.

What is the UK government doing to control the spread of infection?

GPs and hospitals across the UK are preparing for a pandemic, and the UK government is working with the WHO to monitor the situation. Confirmed cases are being treated with antiviral drugs. The UK has agreements with manufacturers to produce a vaccine if the WHO gives the green light.

What do the WHO's pandemic categories mean?

The WHO defines stages in the progression towards a pandemic from level one to six, with level one meaning there are no animal viruses reported to be infectious to people, and level six meaning an animal virus has caused sustained community outbreaks in two or more WHO regions and a pandemic is declared. At the time of writing we are at level five.

Source: Guardian

Even though the above article is just over 24 hours old there are new cases being reported worldwide almost hourly so the totals are constantly changing.....