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Washington Works To Prevent Swine Flue Spread From California

Armen Hareyan's picture

As more human cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection are identified in the United States and internationally, local health departments in southwest Washington are working closely with other public health agencies and community partners to watch for signs of the disease locally and to implement prevention and control measures.

“While we have no known cases in Clark, Cowlitz, Skamania, or Wahkiakum counties at this time, we are monitoring the situation carefully. We will work closely with public health officials in Southwest Washington, the Portland metropolitan region, statewide and nationally to minimize the spread and keep our citizens informed,” said John Wiesman, Public Health director for Clark County.

To handle questions or concerns about swine flu from the public and healthcare providers, two public information telephone lines have been established. In Clark County, call (360) 397-8021; in Cowlitz, Skamania and Wahkiakum counties, call (877) 510-2772. The telephone lines will be open tonight until 8 p.m. They will be open Tuesday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

People are also encouraged to visit the following Web sites for updated information:

* Clark County Public Health: www.clark.wa.gov/public-health
* Cowlitz County Health Department: http://www.co.cowlitz.wa.us/health/
* Washington Department of Health: http://www.doh.wa.gov/swineflu/default.htm
* Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/
* World Health Organization (WHO): http://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/en/index.html
* U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: http://www.hhs.gov/

Some facts about swine influenza A (H1N1)

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* Although people do not normally get swine flu, CDC has determined that this new swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. However, at this time, it is not known how easily the virus spreads between people.
* People who got vaccinated for human flu this past flu season can still get sick from swine flu.
* The swine influenza A (H1N1) virus can be treated with the prescription antiviral drugs oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza). Recommendations for using these drugs for treatment or prevention of swine influenza may change as we learn more about this new virus.
* Human symptoms for this new type of swine flu are similar to the symptoms of regular seasonal flu. Those include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headaches, chills. Additionally, fatigue, lack of appetite, runny nose, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea have been reported.
* This flu is not transmitted by food; people cannot catch it from eating pork products.

Things people can do to protect themselves and others
Infection occurs when the virus gets into the airways and lungs. As with any infectious disease that is spread through the human respiratory system, Clark County Public Health officials recommended the following precautions:

* Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
* Wash your hands often with soap and water frequently, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective if soap and water are not available.
* Try to avoid close contact with people who are sick.
* If you get sick, stay home and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
* Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
* When possible, avoid touching surfaces that many others have touched.

Information for businesses
Public Health encourages governments and businesses to review their plans to keep operating should this flu become more widespread because that could lead to high rates of absenteeism. Businesses and governments should:

* Identify critical business functions (e.g., payable/receivables, payroll, inventory tracking, shipment, etc.).
* Identify systems/vital records that support those critical business functions (e.g., software systems, forms, documents, internet access, etc.).
* Identify personnel needed to complete critical business functions.
* Identify the minimum level of resources and personnel needed to continue and complete critical business functions.
* Create partnerships with similar companies and businesses to create a support network and to share information.
* Encourage personal preparedness for employees both at work and at home.

Travelers should follow the same precautionary measures that are recommended to protect against seasonal influenza – frequent hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when ill. For more information, see http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/investigation.htm#travel.

Don Strick
Clark County Public Health - Information & Outreach
PO Box 5000, Vancouver, WA 98666-5000
Tel: 360-397-6012 ext. 8; 360-397-8000 ext. 7307
Fax: 360-397-6015