Aggressive Prevention Against Swine Flu Encouraged
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals is encouraging all Louisiana individuals and families to engage in “aggressive prevention” steps against a Swine Influenza (swine flu) virus strain that has been confirmed in cases in California, Kansas and Texas, as well as Mexico. There are no confirmed or reported cases in Louisiana at this time, but given the spread of the virus in the U.S. thus far, the Department anticipates some cases will arise in the state.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have determined that the virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. Currently, there is no vaccine available to protect against swine flu, but there are steps Louisiana citizens can take to protect themselves and help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses such as influenza.
* 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, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
* Avoid close contact with sick people.
* If you get sick with influenza, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza that regularly cause outbreaks of influenza among pigs. Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans, however, human infections with swine flu do occur, and cases of human-to-human spread of swine flu viruses have been documented. Symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. As always, any Louisianian experiencing flu-like symptoms should consult his or her physician.
DHH officials yesterday activated a statewide surveillance system and are monitoring spread of the virus along with CDC officials in Washington, D.C. The Department is also working closely with other state agencies, as well as faith-based organizations, hospitals and sentinel physicians—private doctors who volunteer to serve as a ‘front line’ of detection to assist in any public health or infectious disease investigation.
The Department is encouraging clinicians to consider swine flu infection in patients exhibiting symptoms of respiratory illness with fever AND who 1) live in San Diego or Imperial counties, California, or Guadalupe County, Texas, or traveled to these counties OR 2) traveled recently to Mexico or were in contact with persons who had febrile respiratory illness and were in one of the three U.S. counties or Mexico during the 7 days preceding their illness onset.
CDC investigations are ongoing to determine the source of the infection and whether additional people have been infected with similar swine influenza viruses. In addition to individual state public health officials, the CDC is working with health officials in Mexico, Canada and the World Health Organization. On April 24th, CDC deployed 7 epidemiologists to San Diego County, California and Imperial County, California and 1 senior medical officer to Texas to provide guidance and technical support for the ongoing epidemiologic field investigations. CDC has also deployed to Mexico 1 medical officer and 1 senior expert who are part of a global team that is responding to the outbreak of respiratory illnesses in Mexico.