More swine flu cases reported nationally | SummitDaily.com

More swine flu cases reported nationally

CAITLIN ROW
summit daily news

SUMMIT COUNTY ” Swine flu has not yet reached Colorado, but the Summit County Public Health Department is gearing up for any potential outbreaks.

“Right now we’re waiting,” said Deb Crook, director of the Summit County Public Health Department. “I’m certainly concerned at the situation of the flu and how it’s spreading throughout the world.”

At least seven people were hospitalized with swine flu in the U.S. Tuesday, and the number of cases nationwide rose to 64. Although no deaths from the flu have been reported in the U.S. as of Tuesday afternoon.

Most of the nation’s confirmed cases are in New York, where the city’s health commissioner said “many hundreds” of children were sick.

The outbreak likely began in Mexico, where hundreds of people have fallen ill. U.S. officials have advised Americans against most travel to Mexico.

Though Crook has general concerns about diseases being brought into the county by seasonal workers and visitors, she stressed that continued everyday diligence is being taken by the community in monitoring sickness.

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“People are always coming and going from all over the world to our county for vacations and jobs,” she said.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency Sunday due to the emergence of 20 confirmed swine flu cases in the United States. As of Monday afternoon, that number had more than doubled nationally with 41 confirmed swine flu cases in New York City, California, Kansas, Texas and Ohio.

According to Crook, swine flu is more dangerous than regular flu because the specific strain of virus has never been seen before. The vaccine people have administered this flu season will likely have no effect against the new strain.

“We don’t know if it’s likely to be hitting the normal suspects ” the young, elderly and immuno-suppressed ” or if everyone could be affected because of the lack of exposure,” Crook said.

Crook is monitoring flu reports in both the county and the state. She’s also working with Summit County’s school district to get a coordinated message about swine flu to teachers and parents.

In response to parental concerns that Hispanic kids could be carriers of swine flu, Crook said: “No kids should be picked out because they are Hispanic. We’ve talked about that with the school. … We don’t know that the flu even started in Mexico. Next year it could start in Canada.”

The national stockpile of antiviral drugs ” millions of doses of Tamiflu and Relenza ” has been released, but Crook is unsure how it’s being distributed.

“Right now Colorado does not have a plan for further distribution,” she said. “They’re waiting to understand where our first cases may be discovered and what that is going to look like.”

The health department instructs anyone with influenza-like symptoms ” including fever, body aches, cough, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhea ” to contact a health care provider.

The county’s health department also noted that the virus is not transmitted by eating or preparing pork products.

“Our real goal is to make sure that people understand what’s going on,” Crook said. “People should stay home if they’re sick. We’re giving the same guidance for any other influenza outbreak. We’re poised to make any changes that we need to. We’re waiting ” as most of the country is.”

For additional information or questions, contact Summit County Public Health Department at (970) 668-9161.

The Associated Press contributed to this article. Caitlin Row can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or at crow@summitdaily.com.