AS Alocal GP and the chair of Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Hounslow local medical committee, I am writing to offer your readers some information about swine flu.

Swine flu is proving to be a relatively mild virus in people who are generally healthy. However, it is contagious, so if readers believe they are suffering from swine flu they should keep up their fluid intake, take over-the-counter flu remedies and call NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or check their symptoms at if they are concerned.

The most valuable thing that our patients can do is to take their temperature with a thermometer. Every household should keep a thermometer in the medicine cupboard and everyone should know how to use it - skin temperature thermometer readings are not reliable.

If in doubt, ask your pharmacist.

If the temperature reads 38°C or above and the patient is suffering from two of the following symptoms - sore throat, cough, nasal congestion, headache and limb/joint pains - contact the surgery by tele-phone. This will help us to limit the spread of the virus, particularly to patients visiting the surgery with other illnesses who may be at greater risk from the flu.

Your readers can protect themselves and others by following good hygiene rules, such as washing their hands regularly with soap and water, keeping surfaces clean, using tissues to cover sneezes and coughs and throwing them away afterwards.

Finally, I would like to assure readers that your local practices are doing everything they can to ensure that those patients who require treatment get the appropriate advice and to try to stem the spread of this flu bug.