Swine Flu Missouri
Missouri was preparing Monday for a possible swine flu outbreak, but so far, travelers coming in and out of the state weren't terribly concerned. Gov. Jay Nixon said state health officials have been on high alert since Friday, when efforts to contain an outbreak in Mexico spurred concerns of a global flu epidemic. Missouri, which has no confirmed cases of swine flu, has stockpiled enough anti-viral medicines to treat more than 600,000 cases of swine flu.
Missouri is due to receive additional doses of medicine, 3 million surgical masks to protect against the spread of the virus, and 3 million specialized masks for medical workers. Nixon said the state is working with local public health agencies and medical facilities to increase detection of any cases, and will mobilize in the event of an outbreak.
No additional precautions were being taken at St. Louis' Lambert Airport, where Mary and Mark Hemp of Springfield, Ill., were awaiting a flight to Jamaica. The couple weren't happy that their flight likely would pick up passengers from Mexico, but said they're ready to go on vacation and would take precautions.
Al Fedoravicius, who arrived in St. Louis from Albuquerque, N.M., wasn't very concerned, noting that the "outbreak seems relatively confined to a certain area."
Public health officials say it's only a matter of time before cases of swine flu emerge in Illinois. Officials say they're focusing on special populations, such as children, seniors and immigrants, and they're ready to handle any possible infections.
Seven people with cold symptoms have already been tested for the swine flu, but none are carrying the virus. Illinois Public Health Director Damon Arnold says officials are in daily contact with local hospitals and health departments. He says the state will receive additional anti-flu drugs from federal stockpiles this week. Officials say people should use commonsense hygiene practices to avoid the virus, such as frequently washing hands and covering their mouths when coughing.
A doctor at the University of Illinois says concern about swine flu has prompted more students than usual to come to the campus clinic to have flu symptoms checked. Dr. Robert Palinkas says the health center saw few extra students Monday. He says the university has found no suspected cases of the illness. Palinkas also has fielded numerous e-mails from faculty and others with questions about swine flu. He says some come from faculty wondering whether they should be worried that students coughing in class could have swine flu and pass it along. Palinkas says that so far school officials aren't advising the university's 41,000 students on campus against traveling to Mexico.
Religious and community leaders in Chicago's Mexican neighborhoods are trying to educate residents and calm fears about a swine flu outbreak. A spokesman for the Mexican Consulate in Chicago says officials are trying to keep people from panicking. Consulate workers prepared informational fliers in Spanish about preventive measures and planned to hand them out.