Regional officials keeping close eye on swine flu | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Regional officials keeping close eye on swine flu

Staff and wire reports

Although no cases of swine flu have been identified in El Dorado or Douglas counties as of Monday afternoon, regional health officials said they are watching the spread of the disease closely.

The outbreak began in Mexico, where more than 1,600 cases have been reported and the suspected death toll has climbed to 149.

The confirmed cases elsewhere in the U.S. include 28 cases in New York City, 11 in California, two apiece in Kansas and Texas, and one case in Ohio.

All have been mild cases and the victims have recovered.

All but one of the cases in California were found in San Diego and Imperial counties. The remaining case is a seventh-grader who attends St. Mel Elementary School in Woodland Hills.

On Monday, the El Dorado County Public Health Department issued a statement containing several simple measures to reduce the risk of catching the disease, including staying home from work or school if you contract the flu.

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“Health officials in El Dorado County will continue to monitor flu activity, and are conducting surveillance and control activities,” according to the statement.

In Nevada, officials outlined aggressive efforts to deal with swine flu in the event the contagious virus shows up in Nevada.

Outbreaks elsewhere “have got our attention,” Gov. Jim Gibbons said, adding that the state has a response plan that’s based on “standard operating procedures.”

Mike Willden, the state’s health and human services chief, added that Nevada has access to hundreds of thousands of stockpiled doses of medicine for treating people should an outbreak occur.

More than three-quarters of those doses would be for people in the Las Vegas area, Nevada’s population center, he added.

Willden also said samples from four Nevadans with flu-like symptoms were tested over the weekend and the lab tests came back negative.

He also said state officials are staying in daily contact with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We’re not seeing anything that we’re worried about,” Willden said, adding that the planning efforts are “what we do in the public preparedness world.

We plan for the worst, we get ready to treat, and we try to prevent disease spread, and that’s what we’re doing today.”

State Health Officer Mary Guinan said people who get swine flu “feel like they’ve been hit by a bus.” Guinan added that there has been no increase in any kind of flu in Nevada.

Guinan also said Nevada’s influenza season is nearly over but hasn’t officially ended. As a result, she said a flu-monitoring system, which includes more than 60 surveillance sites around the state, is still in place.

Nevada gets heavy tourist traffic from around the world, but Rick Eaton, state homeland security director, said there are no travel restrictions at this time.

Janet Napolitano, head of the federal Homeland Security Department, has said travel warnings for trips to Mexico would remain as long as swine flu is detected.

” Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.

” Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and dispose of the tissue in the trash.

” Stay home if you are sick.

” Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

” Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

” There is no risk of infection from consumption of well-cooked pork and pork products.

” It is considered prudent for people who are ill to delay international travel and for people developing symptoms following international travel to seek medical attention.

Sources: El Dorado County Department of Public Health and the World Health Organization