It’s hard enough to take swine flu seriously since it sounds like an illness affecting nasty people, but endless viral emails and text messages aren’t doing much to improve its image. So far we’ve had people carted off in “hambulances”, victims breaking out in “rashers” and “farmacists” selling patients the inevitable - you guessed it - “oinkment”.

If you feel the jokes are, frankly, a bit of a boar, and are genuinely concerned at the likelihood of catching the virus, here’s some advice from Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale primary care trust chair John Pierce. Mr Pierce, or “JP” to use his blogging name, has revealed how to tell the difference between proper flu and a minor cold, also known as man flu.

He explains: “If you see a £20 note stuck in the bushes at the bottom of the garden and feel so awful that you aren’t able to go and get it, then without any doubt you have the real flu. If you can raise yourself from your sick bed, put on your dressing gown and go and get it then all you have is a bad cold.”

We’re not sure whether the new flu czar Ian Dalton will be taking these highly scientific directions on board but let’s just hope, for the people of Rochdale’s sake, that JP isn’t a practising clinician.