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Tennessee Prepared To Respond Novel Flu Virus Outbreak

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

With guidance from federal officials, the Tennessee Department of Health is working with local public health departments to prepare to respond to the outbreak of a novel flu virus, commonly referred to as swine flu. Human cases of the H1N1 virus infection have been identified both in the United States and internationally. While no cases have been diagnosed in Tennessee, new cases are being identified daily in other states.

“The Tennessee Department of Health prepares continually and has a thorough plan in place to respond to a potential threat to public health in Tennessee,” said Governor Phil Bredesen. “We are fortunate to have nationally-known medical experts who are trained to implement a state-level effort necessary to ensure health and well-being of Tennessee residents.”

The Tennessee Department of Health is conducting surveillance to determine if any individuals in Tennessee have this strain of the influenza virus. The Department is also collaborating with U.S. Health and Human Services to ensure the state has adequate medical supplies and necessary medications on hand should they be needed.

As of today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed 40 human cases of this strain of flu infection in the U.S.

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“It is likely more human cases of swine flu will be detected due to expanded testing and surveillance. As a result, it’s important that residents practice good hygiene and proper respiratory etiquette to protect yourself from the virus and to help prevent spreading illness if you are sick,” said State Health Commissioner Susan R. Cooper, MSN, RN. “Simple, commonsense precautions can help protect us, especially those who may be more greatly affected by the virus, like the very young and the elderly.”

Tennessee residents who think they may be ill with the flu or flu-like illness should contact their health care provider. Symptoms of the illness are as follows: fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhea. Your health care provider will determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed. If you become ill and experience any warning signs, seek emergency medical care. In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

* Fast breathing or trouble breathing
* Bluish skin color
* Not drinking enough fluids
* Not waking up or not interacting
* Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
* Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
* Fever with a rash
* In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
* Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
* Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
* Sudden dizziness
* Confusion
* Severe or persistent vomiting

The Department of Health recommends frequent hand washing with warm soapy water, keeping hands away from your face, eyes and mouth, and covering coughs and sneezes with a sleeve or tissue. These precautions can also help prevent the spread of other illnesses including the common cold.

“Our advice for Tennesseans is the same we give for any cases of flu-like illness. People should stay home when they are sick so they don’t spread illness to coworkers or social contacts,” said State Medical Epidemiologist Tim F. Jones, MD. “Flu is highly contagious. Staying home can help reduce cases of flu and will help the person recover more quickly.”

It’s important to note that the illness cannot be contracted from eating foods, particularly pork or pork products.