Swine Flu closely monitored

Published 9:20 am Tuesday, April 28, 2009

As of 1 p.m. Monday, 40 confirmed cases of Swine Flu are reported nationally.

While no cases are reported in North Carolina, that hasn’t prevented state and local public health officials from closely monitoring this outbreak, one which recently began in Mexico. There, over 1,400 cases of Swine Flu have been reported along with 100 deaths.

Locally, health departments in Hertford County and Northampton County contacted the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald on Monday. Spokespersons for both departments said their administrators had been involved on Monday with conference calls to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

“The key issue right now is that the state is urging all medical providers to question patients who report having influenza-like illness about any recent travel,” said Sharon Long, Public Information Officer with the Northampton Health Department.

Meanwhile, Susan Askew of the Hertford County Public Health Authority said state health providers participating in the national Influenza Sentinel Provider Network are also being asked to submit viral cultures from all patients presenting symptoms of influenza-like illness.

As of 1 p.m. on Monday (April 27), there were 28 confirmed cases of Swine Flu in New York; seven in California; two each in Kansas and Texas and one in Ohio.

North Carolina public health officials are asking state residents to remain aware of events as they develop and to follow the same precautions they take during any flu season.

“We want North Carolinians to know that we are actively participating in CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) efforts to detect the disease and are coordinating with doctors and health providers across the state,” State Health Director Jeff Engel said. “As with all flu events, people should cover their mouths and noses when sneezing or coughing, avoid close contact with people who are sick and wash hands often.”

Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza among pigs. Swine flu virus can be transmitted from pigs to humans through contact with live pigs, and cases of human-to-human spread of swine flu viruses have been documented.

The symptoms of swine flu, which are similar to symptoms of regular flu, include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. In the past, pneumonia and respiratory failure and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause chronic medical conditions to worsen.

Swine flu is not transmitted through the consumption of pork products.

For more information about influenza prevention efforts in North Carolina please visit www.epi.state.nc.us/epi/gcdc/flu.html. For more information about the on-going Swine flu event nationally please visit www.cdc.gov/flu/swine/index.htm.